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1281523 






ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY 




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3 1833 01145 3005 



ANNEX 



Gc 974.8 627r 
GE Geiser, Karl Frederick 

Redempt loners and indentured 
servants in the colony .- 




'***, 



^ 



.. 



Supplement to the YALE REVIEW, Vol. X, No. 2, August, 1901. 



REDEMPTIONERS 



AND 



INDENTURED SERVANTS 



IN THE 



CO LONYand common wea lth 



OF 



PENNSYLVANIA 



BY 



KARL FREDERICK GEISER, Ph.D. 

Professor of Political Science, Iowa State Normal School. Sometime Assistant in 
American History, Yale University. 



THE TUTTLE, MOREHOUSE & TAYLOR CO., 

125 TEMPLE STREET, NEW HAVEN, CONN. 



COPYRIGHT 1901 

BY 

THE YALE PUBLISHING CO. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. Introduction, 5 

II. Causes of Immigration, 8 

III. The Number and Significance of Redemptioners and Inden- 

tured Servants 23 

IV. Historical Sketch of Immigration, 28 

V. The Voyage, 43 

VI. Laws and Methods of Regulating Transportation, . . .59 

VII. The Indenture, 71 

VIII. The Runaways, 77 

IX. Punitive and Marriage Regulations, 86 

X. The Servant in the Army, 94 

XI. The Social Status of the Servant, 102 

Conclusion, no 

Appendices, 113 

Bibliography 120 

Index, 127 



1281523 

PREFACE. 

In this monograph the attempt has been made to give a com- 
plete and accurate account of the institution of indentured service 
as it existed in Pennsylvania, in the hope of throwing some new 
light upon an important phase of our Colonial history upon which 
comparatively little has been written. 

Special acknowledgments are due J. W. Gordon, assistant libra- 
rian of the Pennsylvania Historical Society of Philadelphia, for many 
courtesies, and for assistance in furnishing manuscripts and other 
material; also to Professor W. G. Sumner of Yale University for 
important suggestions ; and especially to Professor Edward G. 
Bourne of the same institution for constant aid and direction. 



K. F. G. 



Iowa State Normal School, 

Cedar Falls, la. 

Jan. 28, 1901 



S^o-fc-O. 



CHAPTER I. 



INTRODUCTION. 

The demand for labor in the American colonies, and the belief 
that the development of their natural resources by Trading and 
Land Companies would yield profitable returns, early led to various 
schemes to promote immigration, and especially to enable the 
laboring class to overcome the great obstacles to» emigration pre- 
sented by a long and expensive voyage. In England and on the 
Continent there was an abundant supply of laborers, but the ma- 
jority of those disposed to seek homes and employment in the col- 
onies were too poor to' transport themselves and provide the neces- 
sary equipments to battle against the unyielding forces of nature. 
This drawback was recognized by many of the writers on coloni- 
zation in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the land companies, inter- 
ested in the settlement of the colonies, were not long in discovering 
that in order to populate the country they must devise a system of 
free transportation by which the poor would be enabled to emigrate. 
To this the English government readily assented, since, in giving 
an outlet and employment to the vast army of idle classes that 
thronged the cities and "threatened to; become criminals" if they 
remained unemployed, it afforded at least a partial solution to one 
of the great economic problems that confronted her at that time. 

Sir George Peckham, a partner in the colonization schemes of 
Sir Humphrey Gilbert, seems to have been the first to suggest what 
afterwards developed into the institution indentured service. In his 
tract on the advantages of colonization, written in 1582, he states 
"there are at this day great numbers which Hue in such penurie & 
want, as they could be content to hazard their Hues, and to serue 
one yeere for meat, drinke and apparell only, without wages, in hope 
thereby to amend their estates." * By 1619 the system of inden- 
tured service was fully developed in Virginia. The later colonies 
subsequently adopted it with such modifications as were necessary to 
give it specific form suitable to their conditions. 2 Its history in 



1 In Hart; American History told by Contemporaries, I: 157. 

2 J. C. Ballagh, White Servitude in the Colony of Virginia; J. H. U. His- 
torical series; vol. xiii. 



6 •.. Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Pennsylvania, therefore, does not involve its origin ; when that 
province was founded this institution was understood in all its bear- 
ings, the difference here from that of earlier colonies being matters 
of detail which were regulated by local legislation. 

A century after Peckham's work appeared, William Penn pro- 
posed a similar, though more elaborate scheme, for the settlement 
of Pennsylvania. 3 By this time, however, assisted immigration had 
assumed various forms and had acquired a strong impetus ; it was 
now no' longer a question as to the method of transporting the poor 
classes, but rather what inducements should be offered to settlers on 
landing. Large tracts of land were offered by Penn to adventurers 
at prices merely nominal, and fifty acres of land were given for 
every servant brought into the colony. Similar concessions were 
made by the proprietors of New Jersey for its settlement ; in fact 
such inducements were offered in nearly all of the early colonies. 
To advertise the advantages of Pennsylvania over those of other 
colonies pamphlets and broadsides were issued in various lan- 
guages and scattered throughout England and the continent, and 
it is remarkable to what an extent they influenced the tide of immi- 
gration. 

Generally speaking the indentured servants were those immi- 
grants who, unable to pay their passage, signed a contract, called an 
indenture, before embarking, in which they agreed with the master 
or owner of the vessel transporting them, "to serve him or his as- 
signs" a period of years in return for passage to America. The 
master or owner of the vessel whose servants they thus at once be- 
came on arriving in America sold them for their passage to whom 
he pleased, usually to the highest bidder. The indenture was then 
transferred to the purchaser who now became the master for the 
remaining period expressed in the indenture. 

In the later history of the institution the term redemptioner be- 
comes common and many modern writers have failed to realize the 
distinction between redemptioners and indentured servants. 

The redemptioner, strictly speaking, was an immigrant, but on 
embarking agreed with the shipping merchant to be transported 
without an indenture and without payment of passage, and on land- 
ing in America to be given a short period of time in which to find 
relatives or friends to redeem him by paying his passage. If he 
were unable to find anyone who would redeem him in the time speci- 
fied, the captain was at liberty to sell him to the highest bidder in 



See appendix X. 



Introduction. . . 7 

payment for his passage, in which case the redemptioner entered 
into the same legal relation or status as the indentured servant, and 
was consequently governed by the same laws. Sometimes a re- 
demptioner would pay a part of his passage money on embarking ; 
in such cases, however, the same principle applied as in the case of 
those who were owing for the entire debt, the purpose of such an 
arrangement being merely to shorten the time of service. 



CHAPTER II. 



CAUSES OF IMMIGRATION. 

The successive waves of European immigration to the American 
Colonies can not be attributed to any single cause or to any single 
set of motives. At different periods different forces are at work, 
and at any given period various motives impel migration. While 
one class seeks the virgin soil of the new colonies to escape religious 
or political oppression, or to better their own condition and provide 
for their posterity, another class comes to escape the discipline of 
just laws. 1 The same vessel that brought reckless adventurers, to 
whom a fruitless search for wealth would signify no loss, also con- 
tained those who were leaving comfortable homes, to be disap- 
pointed with the pioneer life in the new colony. 

But among the varying causes which impelled the population 
westward, was the constant force arising from the economic condi- 
tions of the Old and New Worlds — the demand for labor in the col- 
onies, and the supply of laborers in England and on the continent. 
On this side of the Atlantic, the virgin soil, practically limitless in 
extent, the undeveloped mines, the immense forests — all required 
the application of labor to secure their products and to convert 
them into forms suitable for trade. In England, during the latter 
part of the seventeenth century, whether on account of over-popu- 
lation or an ill-adjusted industrial system, there was a large pauper 
and vagrant class considered a "burden on society." What to do 
with this class formed one of the great economic problems of the 
time. In 1697, William III, gave the following instructions to the 
Board of Trade : "And we do further authorize and require you our 
said Commissioners or any three or more of you to consider some 
proper methods for setting on worke and Imploying the Poore of 
our said Kingdom and making them useful to the publick, And 

1 "The great majority of immigrants came from respectable and worthy- 
families, and sought only immunity from wars, and a livelihood for their 
children; but there were some wild and reckless ones among them — crimi- 
nals, and fortune seekers. The ministers in their reports complained bitterly 
of the reckless and adventurous class from Germany who came to America 
with runaway schoolmasters and students." — Franz Loher, Geschichte und 
Zustande der Deutschen in Amerika, p. 76. Cincinnati and Leipzig, 1847. 



Causes of Immigration. p 

thereby easing our Subjects of that burthen." 2 There was a con- 
stant pressure on the population of England during this period. In 
Ireland the resources were wasted by the many restrictions placed 
on Irish industry ; tenants were unwilling to improve the land, be- 
cause if they did, the landlords were likely to raise their rents to the 
full value of the improvements. "On the whole" says Cunning- 
ham, 3 "the condition of population was most miserable." This gen- 
eral discontent among a shifting, surplus population, coupled with 
the constant demand for labor in the colonies, led not only to a 
constant, free, and natural immigration, but also to a forced and 
assisted transportation. What to do with the "idle classes?" how 
to employ the poor? how induce men to emigrate to America? 
formed problems for numerous experiments. 

In Germany, although the causes were of a different nature from 
those in England, the supply was no less real and abundant. The 
claim of Louis XIV, to the Palatinate, which was opposed by the 
German states in the Triple Alliance under the leadership of 
William, of Orange, opens a period of devastation to that state, 
which caused thousands to seek homes in the American colonies. 
To avenge himself on that Province, and to weaken his enemies, 
Louis sent an army of 50,000 men, in 1685, to ravage the country; 
cities and villages were burned ; the people were stripped of their 
possessions, and were forced by the French to plow under their 
crops ; many perished and thousands were made homeless. A few 
years' immunity from plunder was followed by another invasion of 
a similar nature in 1693. The outbreak of the War of the Spanish 
Succession in 1701, the Palatinate being the pathway of the con- 
tending armies, added thirteen years more of misery. To all this 
wretchedness Louis furnished a climax by sending an army into the 
Province in 1707, to repeat the rapine of former years. This was 
the beginning of the great German exodus to England and her Col- 
onies, 4 and to the native population which flowed out of Germany 
at this time, were added many of the French Huguenots, who left 
their country on account of the persecutions of the King. 

When we consider that in addition to- the ravages of war, the 
people in Germany, England, and Ireland, were burdened with 
heavy taxes, distressed by political, social, and religious factions, it 

2 Board of Trade Journals, (Transcripts), X: 236. 

3 Growth of English Industry, etc.: 307. Cambridge, 1892. 

4 Wyoming Historical and Geological Society Publications; Pamphlet by 
S. H. Cobb. p. off., 1897. 

See also S. H. Cobb, The Story of the Palatinio, N. Y., 1897. 



io Rede?nptio?iers and Indentured Servants. 

is not at all strange that there should be a strong desire on the part 
of the restless population, to seek homes in a new country, free from 
wars, from party strife, and social caste. The American Colonies 
in a large measure were free from these distressing misfortunes, and 
offered the desired opportunities. The remoteness of the colonies, 
and the lack of means to reach them, were the chief barriers which 
interposed. Those who were without the necessary means of trans- 
porting themselves and who were assisted in various ways, formed 
a large proportion of the population in many of the colonies. In 
Pennsylvania assisted immigration begins with the founding and 
settling of the colony; its history is concomitant with that of free 
immigration. 5 Indentured servants are mentioned in the earliest 
frame of Penn's government, and continue to become a more im- 
portant class with the increase of population. 6 

The direct causes leading to the settlement of this province were 
many. To induce immigration, Penn agreed with the adventurers 
and purchasers, that fifty acres of land should be given for every 
servant brought into the colony. In a pamphlet published in 1682, 
his method of attracting settlers is outlined at length. Two classes 
of immigrants needing assistance are therein recognized: "In the 
first place there are those who are able to transport themselves and 
their Families, but are unable to build or stock themselves when 
they are there ; others that have not enough to transport themselves 
and their Families." 7 As this pamphlet is one of many that were 
issued from 1682 to the end of the century, to encourage immigra- 
tion into Pennsylvania, a few extracts will be instructive as show- 
ing their general character. The scheme here proposed, is to induce 
men of wealth to take up large tracts of land, and to encourage 
those of little or no means to settle thereon for the benefit of the 
rich. Of the two classes above referred to, "the first of these may 
be entertained in this manner : Say I have 5000 Acres, I will settle 
ten Families upon them, in way of Village, and build each an house, 
* * * * furnish every Family with Stock ; * * * * I 



5 By free immigration I refer to that in which no conditions were imposed 
upon the immigrant on account of passage, as for example, future service 
in the colony. 

" See Penn's Frame of Government; 1683, sect. xxix. The early laws of 
New Jersey, likewise recognize servants as a part of the population. 

7 The authorship of this pamphlet is attributed to William Penn, and is 
entitled "Information and Direction to such Persons as are Inclined to 
America — More especially those related to the Province of Pennsylvania." 
Reprint in Penn. Mag. of Hist, and Biog. IV: 337-9. 



Causes of Immigration. n 

find them with tools and give each their first ground-Seed. They 
shall continue seven years or more, as we agree, at half increase, 
* * * * The charge" of this class, it is stated, "will come to 
about sixty pounds English for each Family: * * * * The 
other sort of poor people may be very beneficially transported upon 
these terms : Say I have 5000 Acres, I should settle as before. I 
will give to each Family 100 Acres * * * * and thirty pounds 
English, half in hand and half there, * * * * After four years 
are expired, in which time they may be easie, and in good condition, 
they shall each of them pay five pounds, and so yearly forever, as a 
Fee-farm rent; * * * * In these Families I propose that 
there be at least two working hands, besides the wife, whether son 
or servant; and that they oblige what they carry; and for further 
security, bind themselves as servants for some time, that they will 
settle the said land accordingly." 8 

In the settlement of New Jersey, as in Pennsylvania, liberal con- 
cessions were made to planters and servants. Every freeman em- 
barking with the first Governor was on his arrival provided with a 
"good musket, with bandeliers and match convenient, and with six 
months provisions for himself." Also "150 acres of land and the 
like number for every man-servant or slave brought with him." 
Seventy-five acres of land were promised to every female over four- 
teen years of age "and a similar number to every Christian servant 
at the expiration of his or her term of service." 9 These concessions 
were made in 1665. In the following year settlers from various 
towns of Connecticut took advantage of the offer and settled in 
Newark. Perth Amboy was settled in a similar manner a few years 
later. To encourage artificers and laborers "that shall transport 
themselves thither out of England, Scotland and Ireland" the pro- 
prietors of East Jersey promised to find "work, provisions and pay," 
special inducements being given to servants. 

The large amount of land thus offered on such seemingly easy 
terms by the governors and proprietors of the new possessions in 
America was a strong inducement to draw the depressed and com- 
paratively crowded population of the Old World. To the German 
peasant supporting a family on a few acres in southern 
Germany where every foot of soil had to be tilled with the greatest 
care to meet the actual necessities of life, this area offered flattering 



8 Similar inducements were offered to settlers in the New Netherlands. 
See Fiske, Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America; I: 171. 

9 Collection of New Jersey Historical Society; I: 38. 



12 Redemptioners and Inde?itured Servants. 

returns for this labor ; to the English tenant whose energies were 
used to augment the wealth of a lord by whom he was oppressed, 
without hope of his ever becoming master, this seemed a generous 
offer ; here he was to be on an equality with his fellow-men ; the re- 
sults of his labors were to be his own; no oppressive taxation was 
to bear him down ; here he was to be lord of his own domain. The 
dark side of colonial life — subduing the forest, the constant fear of 
savages, the want of facilities incident to a sparse population, — was 
not represented to them in the mass of literature which advertised 
the new colonies. For unfavorable reports were carefully sup- 
pressed by those whose interests lay in the settlement and growth of 
the colony. 

The plan of settlement having been formulated, a large number 
of tracts, descriptive and otherwise, were issued, which in a large 
measure, turned the tide of German immigration, from other col- 
onies into that of Pennsylvania. The chief promoters of this ad- 
vertising scheme, were William Penn and Benjamin Furly, an 
English Quaker and merchant at Rotterdam, who was the compan- 
ion and interpreter of William Penn during the latter's visit to Ger- 
many and Holland in 1677. "A Letter from William Penn, Pro- 
prietary and Governor of Pennsylvania in America, to the Commit- 
tee of the Free Society of Traders of that Province, residing in Lon- 
don," published in 1683, was translated into Dutch, German, and 
French in the following year. In the same year there were added 
to these issues letters from actual residents of Pennsylvania. "The 
earliest of these pamphlets seem to have been single sheets, or two 
leaves quarto." 10 The next important work appeared in 1685, en- 
titled, "Good Order established in Pennsylvania." Its object was 
to counteract a report which had been circulated in some parts of 
Germany, to the effect that the new Colony was giyen up to dis- 
order. Another account, more elaborate, was published at Rotter- 
dam the same year, written by Cornelius Bom, a Dutch baker, who 
came to Philadelphia at an early date and there plied his trade. 11 
Less important accounts of Pennsylvania quickly followed. 

To counteract the influence of this literature, which was re- 
sponded to by so many German yeomen, the authorities, both re- 
ligious and secular, whose provinces were already reduced in popu- 
lation by the wars of succession, issued numerous edicts which 



J. F. Sachse, Pennsylvania-German Society, VII: 177. 
J. F. Sachse, Penna. -German Soc. VII: p. 178. 



Causes of Immigration. ij 

included Pietists as well as Quakers in their scope. 12 Books, 
pamphlets, and broadsides, .about and against the Quakers, and 
their scheme of colonization, were issued in addition to the procla- 
mations, and freely circulated in Germany. Although they seemed 
to have had little or no effect upon the impending exodus, they 
called forth replies from Penn and his followers. 

In 1690, Penn issued a broadside entitled "Proposals for a Sec- 
ond Settlement in the Province of Pennsylvania." The settlement 
was to be on the banks of the Susquehanna, grouped about a com- 
mon city in which each purchaser was to have a lot proportionate 
in size to the amount of land purchased. He recommends the soil, 
climate, and location, and concludes by stating that "there are in- 
structions printed for such as intend to go or send servants or fam- 
ilies thither." 13 

At this period immigration was further stimulated by Daniel 
Pastorius, one of the pioneer Germans of Pennsylvania, highly edu- 
cated, and influential both in the colony and in his native country. 
His first volume contains four "Useful Tracts," setting forth in 
glowing terms the advantages of the new country. The earliest tract 
that gives an extended account of the province, was written by him 
in 1686, to his parents in Germany. "This description" says J. F. 
Sachse, "was reprinted in various periodicals and magazines of the 
day, and circulated extensively among the yeomenry of Germany. 
The next important issues relating to Pennsylvania, were, "A Short 
Description of Pennsylvania" by Richard Frame, 14 a poem on the 
"Flourishing State of Pennsylvania" by Judge John Holme, and 
the "Massive or Report" by Johann Seelig to August Franke, one 
of the fathers of Pietism, in 1695. Frame's description is in the 
form of a poem and is a prophetic picture of the coming wealth and 
greatness of the province. Traders, he says, are brotherly; one 
brings employment for another. 

"No doubt but you will like this country well. 
We that did leave our country thought it strange 
That ever we should make so good a change." 

Holme in his poem, written in 1696, sings of the richness of the 
soil, the cheapness of land, the abundance and variety of fruit and 



12 A collection of these edicts, from 1690 to 1700, are in the library of the 
Penn. Hist. Soc, and in the private library of Julius F. Sachse of Phila. 

13 Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania; vol. I: 400. 

14 Published in Philadelphia, in 1692. 



14 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

fruit trees that "do grow in this ground, that we begin with cider 
to abound." 15 From the line here quoted we may infer that though 
the author did not shine as a poet, he well knew what inducements 
would be necessary to attract a native German. The account which 
Seelig gives of the voyage and condition of the German Pietists who 
left Germany in a body two years before did effective work in 
attracting their co-religionists to the new colony. 

In 1697 there were scattered throughout Germany and Holland 
controversial tracts written in America, not for the purpose of in- 
ducing immigration, but for the purpose of influencing the Ger- 
mans for or against a religious creed which the followers of Spener 
were attempting to maintain in the province. These, however, 
were soon followed by a flood of literature relating exclusively to 
German immigration. Two tracts by Pastorius close the list of the 
whole period in 1704. The writings of both Pastorius and Daniel 
Falkner who was also an influential member in the colony, were 
published simultaneously at Frankfort and Leipzig under the 
auspices of the Frankfort Land Company, and were repeatedly re- 
printed and quoted in the periodicals and reviews of the day. But 
while the year 1704 marks the close of a series of early pamphlets 
on Pennsylvania, it is not to be assumed that it was the end of liter- 
ature advertising the colony. Advertising material in various forms 
was issued throughout the greater part of the century. In 1770 
William Eddis writes from America to London as follows : "In 
your frequent excursions about the great Metropolis, you cannot 
but observe numerous advertisements, offering most seductive en- 
couragements to adventurers under every possible description." 16 

The influence of literature on immigration to Pennsylvania is 
shown by a letter of Christopher Sauer, an editor of a German news- 
paper, an influential character who came to the province in 1725. 
It is in part as follows : "I wrote largely to my friends and acquaint- 
ances, of the civil and religious liberties. * * * * My letters 
were printed and reprinted, whereby thousands were provoked to 
come to this province, and they desired their friends to come." 17 

The committee in England, who had charge of the German Pal- 
atines who came to that country during the great exodus, gave this 
report to the House of Commons : "Upon the examination of several 
of them, what were their motives, which induced them to leave their 



Scharf and Wescott, History of Philadelphia; I: 143. 

Letters from America: 67. 

I. D. Rupp, History of Northumberland, etc. Counties; p. 55. 



Causes of Immigration. 15 

native country, it appeared to the Committee, that there were books 
and papers dispersed in the Palatinate, 18 to encourage them to come 
to England in order to be sent to Carolina, or other of Her Majes- 
ty's Plantations." 19 

"This literature" says Sachse, "did much to influence German 
emigration to America, and after events showed that the printing 
press in Germany, was one of the most active factors in bringing 
about the German settlement of Pennsylvania. When fairly started 
the effects of this movement became phenomenal." 20 The desire to 
emigrate grew among the German peasantry, until it assumed such 
proportions as to cause Holland and Germany to take active meas- 
ures to check the effluent stream, which threatened to' depopulate 
some of the provinces of Germany ; as it threatened to change Penn- 
sylvania into a German colony, 21 it caused alarm in England. 

So rapid was immigration into eastern Pennsylvania that in the 
early part of the 18th century the land in the eastern counties was 
well occupied, and the stream was now directed to the western 
counties. In 1727 a society was formed, known as the "The West- 
ern Pennsylvania Emigrant Society." It was composed of a num- 
ber of inhabitants of western Pennsylvania, many of them formerly 
from different parts of Europe. The object of the society was to 
furnish immigrants "all the assistance in its power, in procuring 
employment for them, locating them to the best advantage, accord- 
ing to their different stations, trades or occupations, * * * * 
and rendering them all such service in establishing themselves as 
they need." 22 The advantages which Pennsylvania offered were 
pictured by this society in glowing colors. Emigrants from all 
parts of Europe as well as from various sections of the United 
States, would here meet with friends and acquaintances, who* "would 



18 Journals of the Commons; Vol. 16: 597. 7 to 10 Anne. 

19 The Queen's picture was upon these books and the title pages were in 
letters of gold, from whence they were called "Golden Book." Journal of 
the Commons; XVI: 597. 7 to 10 Anne. "What further encouraged them 
to leave their native country, was the ravages the French had made, and the 
damages the hard frost had done to their vines." Ibid: 597. 

20 J. F. Sachse, Penna. -German Soc, VII: 197-8; 1896. This volume con- 
tains an excellent account of the literature used to induce German immigra- 
tion. Following the account, in the same volume, are 56 "Title pages of 
books and pamphlets that influenced German Emigration to Pennsylva- 
nia, " reproduced in fac-simile. 

21 J. F. Sachse, Penna. -German Soc, VII: 198. 

22 Hazard's Register of Penn. I: 24; Jan. 12, 1828. 



16 Rtdemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

not be behindhand in offers of kindness and hospitality." The 
Germans, in particular are informed that there is a large and re- 
spectable body of their countrymen settled in this country. 

The liberal frame of government, the easy manner in which citi- 
zenship might be obtained, and the toleration to all religious orders, 
were among the strongest incentives inducing immigration to 
Pennsylvania. Every inhabitant on easy conditions, was to "be 
capable of electing or being elected representatives of the people in 
provincial council or general assembly." 23 "You are fixed at the 
mercy of no Governor that comes to make his fortune great," writes 
Penn to the earliest colonists ; "you shall be governed by laws of your 
own making, and live a free, and, if you will, a sober and industrious 
people. I shall not usurp the rights of any, or oppress his person ; 
* * * * In short, whatever sober and free men can reasonably 
desire for the security and improvement of their happiness, I shall 
heartily comply with." 2 * Belief in "the one Almighty and Eternal 
God" was the only condition in matters of religion ; nor, was any 
one "compelled at any time to frequent or maintain any religious 
worship, place or ministry whatever." 25 As late as the Declaration 
of Independence, Pennsylvania and Delaware, the original domain 
of William Penn, were the only states in which all Christian sects 
were on a social and political equality. "As for Pennsylvania" says 
Fiske, "if there was anything which she stood for in the eyes of the 
world, it was liberty of conscience. In Voltaire's writings Pennsyl- 
vania more than once receives admiring mention as the one favored 
country in the world where men can be devoutly religious and still 
refrain from tearing one another to pieces." 26 

To what extent religious toleration was a determining factor in 
immigration, it is difficult to determine. The economic causes were 
deep seated and abiding. Considered, however, as a collateral or 
subsidiary inducement religious toleration was potent in promoting 
the early settlement of Pennsylvania. In addition to the pamphlets 
and private letters which made the conditions of the colony well 
known in Europe, messengers were sent at various times to different 
towns in Germany bearing the news that Penn's scheme of coloniza- 
tion was successful, and that the province was open to all who re- 
fused to conform to the requirements of the orthodox religion as 



23 Hazard's Register of Penn. I: 357; Penn's Laws; sect. II. 1682. 

24 Hazard's Annals of Pennsylvania; p. 502. 

25 Penn's Laws, 1628; sect. 35; Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania; I: 359. 
28 John Fiske, Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America; II: 99, 1899. 



Causes of Immigration. 77 

established by law. 27 The fact that German emigration proceeded 
in clearly marked waves according to diverse denominations and 
sects, beginning with those most persecuted, and thence proceeding 
to those where the religious restraints in the mother country, were 
more a matter of annoyance than persecution, sustains the opinion 
that religious toleration was a prominent factor attracting immigra- 
tion. In support of this, is the fact that most of the early inhabi- 
tants, were bands of religionists, whose peculiar views made life a 
burden in the old country. In the first year of Pennsylvania's ex- 
istence 3000 Quakers from England landed in the new colony ; in 
1685 a company of Mennonites from Germany settled at German- 
town ; about the same time Labadists from Friesland settled in New 
Castle County, Delaware, then a part of Pennsylvania; in 1695 a 
band of Pietists were planted on the banks of the Wissahickon ; in 
1719 a company of Dunkards settled in Germantown; other relig- 
ious sects followed, among them the Newborn and Schwenkfelders, 
closing the list with the large incoming of Moravians in 1735. In 
no other colony were there such diverse and numerous religious 
sects ; in no other colony was religious toleration so prominent a 
factor. After these early bands had settled in the various localities, 
they induced their friends in the old country to join them. In this 
way distinct settlements grew up in the different counties, preserv- 
ing the customs and manners which they held at home ; this distinc- 
tion is very noticeable in Pennsylvania at the present time. 

Up to the middle of the eighteenth century, those who' came to 
Pennsylvania, were, generally speaking, satisfied with their condi- 
tion. Aside from the misfortunes of the voyage, there was little 
that called forth complaint. While the early literature pictured the 
advantages in the colony to a degree far beyond that usually realized 
by those who left their native country, the wars in Germany, and the 
industrial depression in England and Ireland, made the change as a 
whole desirable. But as the influx steadily increased and added 
wealth to the colonies, evils crept into the system of transportation, 
by which many were induced to migrate, who' afterwards bitterly 
complained of the change. The demand for laborers in the colony 
was unabated ; shipping merchants found that the passenger traffic 
was a profitable business, and used every means to- encourage it. 

It was at this period that a new factor was added to the forces 
that impelled the human stream into Pennsylvania. A class of Ger- 
mans who had lived in Pennsylvania returned to Germany, to per- 



27 Pensylvania German Society; VII: 172. 



18 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

suade their countrymen to go to America. This class, known as 
the Xeulanders, were in the employ of shipping merchants, and re- 
ceived a commission for everyone that they persuaded to take pas- 
sage. Recent investigations have revealed, that the greater part of 
modern immigration is induced by steamship lines who have agents 
all over Europe persuading men to come to America. They get a 
commission on the number of tickets they sell. In the German im- 
migration to Pennsylvania a similar system 28 was carried on by the 
Neulanders. It must not, however, be assumed that the present 
method carries with it the evils of former years. Over a century's 
progress, with all it implies to every phase of life, stands between 
the two systems. The immigrant who came to Pennsylvania before 
the middle of the 18th century, seldom returned. Many of those 
induced by Neulanders, who later regretted the move, came as re- 
demptioners, without means, and were, therefore, compelled to serve 
in the colony for a term of years ; others, of moderate means, having 
sold their property in Germany, were unable to re-establish them- 
selves in their native country, and had to make the best of a pioneer 
life. During this period, therefore, we find many who complain 
bitterly of having been deceived by these agents or Neulanders. 
Their method of procedure is described in the German newspapers 
of the time ; e. g. the Hallischen Nachrichten of 1769 publishes a let- 
ter dated 1768 from Muhlenberg, one of the most prominent and 
influential Germans, of his time, in Pennsylvania, in which he warns 
his countrymen at some length against the trickery of this class. 
"These Neulanders," he writes, "first make themselves acquainted 
with certain shipping merchants in Holland, from whom they 
obtain besides free passage for themselves, a certain amount for 
every family, and each individual, that they bring to the Holland 
merchants from Germany. In order to accomplish their purpose 
the more readily, they resort to every conceivable trickery. They 
parade themselves in fine dress, display their watches, and in every 
way conduct themselves as men of opulence, in order to inspire the 
people with the desire to live in a country of such wealth and 
abundance. They would convince one that there are in America, 
none but Elysian fields abounding in products which require no 
labor; that the mountains are full of gold and silver, and the wells 
and springs gush forth milk and honey ; that he goes there as a ser- 
vant, becomes a lord ; as a maid, a gracious lady ; as a peasant, a 
nobleman ; as a commoner or craftsman, a baron. Law and author- 



See S. G. Fisher, The Making of Pennsylvania: 104-5; Phila. \i 



Causes of Immigration. ip 

ity, they say, is created by the people and abrogated at their will. 
Now, as everyone by nature desires to better his condition, who 
would not wish to go to such a country !" Then after being con- 
vinced that their condition would be improved in America, and 
inspired with a desire to migrate, he says, "Families break up, they 
convert their possessions into money, pay their debts, and the 
money that remains, they give for safe keeping to the Neulander, 
and finally prepare themselves for the long journey." 29 

The class principally affected by these agents was the redemp- 
tioner, described in another chapter, who formed a large proportion 
of the German immigration to Pennsylvania from about 1725 to the 
end of the century. "The greatest part of the strangers," says Abbe 
Raynal, 30 "who go over to America under these conditions, would 
never go on board a ship, if they were not inveigled away. Simple 
men seduced by these magnificent promises blindly follow these in- 
famous brokers engaged in this scandalous commerce, who deliver 
them over to factors at Amsterdam, or Rotterdam." 

When we consider the conditions of Germany, and the induce- 
ments offered in Pennsylvania during this period, it is not at all 
strange that so many were deceived ; nor is it correct to assume that 
all who came were "simple men." People of every rank and profes- 
sion were lured away. We find among their numbers, soldiers, 
scholars, artists and mechanics. 31 It was but natural that those 



29 Schlozer, Briefwechsel; erster Theil; Heft IV; 218 et seq. Gottingen, 
1777. Ich rede nicht von solchen, die nach Deutschland zuriick reisen, ihre 
Erbschaft zu holen, oder auch fur andre hiesige Einwoner Gelder, die sie 
noch in Deutschland zu fodern haben, zu einzuhandlen, und hier wieder zu 
verkaufen pflegen: dieses ist ein ordentliches und erlaubtes Gewerbe, welche 
ich nicht tadele — ibid. 

30 History of the Settlement and Trade of the Europeans in the East and 
West Indies; VII: 410. 

31 "Frequently letters are entrusted in Pennsylvania and other English 
colonies, to Neulanders, who return to the old country. When they get to 
Holland they have these letters opened or they open them themselves, and 
if anyone has written the truth, his letter is either rewritten so as to suit the 
purposes of these harpies, or simply destroyed. While in Pennsylvania I 
heard such men-thieves say that there were Jews enough in Holland ready, 
and who could perfectly forge any handwriting. They can imitate all char- 
acters, marks and tokens so admirably that even those whose handwriting 
they have imitated must acknowledge it to be their own. By means of such 
practices they deceive even people who are not credulous, thus playing their 
nefarious tricks in a covert manner. They say to their confidants that this 
is the best way to induce people to emigrate." — Mittleberger, Journey to 
Pennsylvania: 42. 



20 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

who lived in the provinces most thickly populated, or in those whose 
fortunes had been ruined by war — it was here that the Neulander 
acted — should desire to rise above their wretched condition. It was 
but natural that the offer of a passage, in return for future service 
in a country which offered brilliant prospects, should be accepted ; 
and, while the literature of the times abounds in condemnation of 
this species of traffic, it must be remembered that facilities for con- 
veying intelligence were not far advanced, especially in those can- 
tons removed from centers of trade. The alarming extent and the 
manner in which this human traffic was carried on during the middle 
of the eighteenth century, is well described by Mittleberger in his 
Journey to Pennsylvania. "These men-thieves" he says, "rob the 
princes and lords of their subjects and take them to Rotterdam or 
Amsterdam to be sold there. They receive there from their mer- 
chants for every person of ten years and over, three florins or a 
ducat; whereas the merchant gets in Philadelphia sixty to eighty 
florins for such a person, in proportion as said person has incurred 
more or less debt during the voyage. When such a Neulander has 
collected a 'transport' and if it does not suit him to accompany them 
to America, he stays behind, passes the winter in Holland or else- 
where ; in the spring he obtains again money in advance for emi- 
grants from his merchants, goes to Germany again, pretending that 
he came from Pennsylvania with the intention of purchasing all 
sorts of merchandise which he is going to take there. Frequently 
the Neulander says that he had received power-of-attorney from 
some countrymen or from the authorities of Pennsylvania to obtain 
legacies or inheritances for these countrymen ; and they would avail 
themselves of this good and sure opportunity to take their friends, 
brothers, or sisters, or even their parents with them ; and it has often 
happened that such old people followed them, trusting to the per- 
suasion of these Neulanders that they would be better provided 
for." 32 

The artful means employed in settling the American colonies, 
were not alone confined to the continent. Before the colony of 
Pennsylvania was founded, similar seductive methods were exten- 
sively carried on in England, by a class called "spirits." Many who 
came to Virginia and Maryland had been deceived by misrepre- 
sentations of the conditions in the colonies by the wily arts of these 
secret agents. So extensively was this deception and kidnapping 



32 Mittleberger, Journey to Pennsylvania: 38. Cf. Abbe Raynal, History, 
etc., VII: 410. 



Causes of Immigration. 21 

practiced, especially in Bristol and London, that the expression "to 
spirit away" became common all over England, and conveyed with it 
a mysterious and terrifying significance. Children and adults alike 
were lured or forced upon vessels in the harbor, or carried to the 
numerous cook shops in the neighborhood of the wharves in the 
principal seaports, and here they were kept in close confinement 
until sold to merchants or masters of ships which were about to sail 
for the colonies. As a result of this spiriting away, frauds became 
so common, that in 1664, the committee for Foreign Plantations 
decided to interpose. Their action was brought about by a petition 
from the English merchants condemning the action of the "spirits" 
on the ground that many persons who voluntarily left England for 
the colonies and became dissatisfied, pretended that they had been 
spirited away against their own wishes. A committee was ap- 
pointed whose duty it was to register the names and ages of all who 
proposed to emigrate to America. But this did not put a stop to 
the practice. Ten years after the act became a law, it was stated 
that ten thousand persons were annually spirited away from Eng- 
land by kidnappers. 33 

The manner in which this cajolery was practiced is described by 
one of its victims, a Peter Williamson, a Scotchman, who wrote an 
account of his romantic adventures in Pennsylvania in the middle of 
the eighteenth century : "At eight years of age I was playing with 
companions on the quay. I was noticed by fellows who belonged 
to a vessel in the harbor, engaged, as trade then was, by some of 
the worthy merchants of the town in that villainous practice, called 
kidnapping. I was easily cajoled on board the ship by them where 
I was no sooner got than they conducted me between the decks, to 
some others they had kidnapped in the same manner. In about six 
months time the ship set sail for America. When we arrived in 
Philadelphia the captain had soon men enough who came to buy 
us. He sold us at sixteen pounds per head. I was sold for seven 
years, to one of my own countrymen, a North Briton, who had in 
his youth undergone the same fate as myself." 34 



38 P. A. Bruce, Economic History of Virginia; I: 615 et seq. Referring 
to those people of England "who are disgusted with the frowns of fortune 
in their native land and those of an enterprising disposition" William Eddis 
writes in 1770, "These persons are referred to agents, or crimps, who repre- 
sent the advantages to be obtained in America, in colors so alluring, that it 
is almost impossible to resist their artifices." — Letters from America: 67. 

34 The Life and Adventures of Peter Williamson. Liverpool, 1807. 



22 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

These were among the chief causes which led to the settlement 
of Pennsylvania, and which made that province unique among the 
American colonies. To the majority of immigrants it appeared as 
"their desired haven." Situated in the midst of the English-Ameri- 
can colonies, it was the center of trade ; its genial climate was suited 
to all classes ; its varied resources gave employment to every indus- 
try; its frame of government gave toleration to all religious sects, 
and its heterogeneous population gave cast to its later history. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE NUMBER AND SIGNIFICANCE OF REDEMPTION- 
ERS AND INDENTURED SERVANTS. 

The number and significance of reclemptioners and indentured 
servants in the colony and commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been 
commonly underestimated. Unfortunately there are no statistics 
covering the whole period of colonial history bearing directly on the 
number and proportion of this class to the whole population. Ob- 
vious reasons at once present themselves for the comparative 
obscurity of an institution so far reaching in its scope and conse- 
quences. In the first place, the term "servant," in the common 
literature of the times, was applied not only to bound servants but 
to all who performed menial service, and even to officers of the 
Crown. Then again, while the system of bound service was in its 
general aspect an institution, distinct as slavery, in its detail there 
is no distinct line of legal demarkation which separates it in its mild 
form from the "hired-servants" system which involved work by the 
year. On the other hand, its close connection with slavery in some 
of its phases at least, is shown by the fact that there are many laws 
common to "slaves and servants." Ordinarily, however, the social 
condition of servants did not differ materially from that of the ordi- 
nary freeman. The service carried no ignominy with it ; at the end 
of his service the Redemptioner enjoyed all the privileges and rights 
of a free citizen, and w T hile under indenture seems to have been re- 
garded as a laborer at present bound by contract to perform a speci- 
fied amount of labor in a given time. 

It was this fact of social equality which renders the general lit- 
erature of the times vague for purposes of determining their pro- 
portion in the colonial population. Lists of immigrants and 
registries of Redemptioners so far as available, give us the most 
accurate idea of the proportion of bound servants to the whole popu- 
lation ; yet these must be taken with some reserve ; those coming 
from other provinces would not be given in a list of immigrants ; 
neither does a list give any idea of the number who voluntarily 
bound themselves — and there were many — after having resided in the 



24 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

colony a number of years as freemen. 1 But although it is difficult to 
give in exact numbers, for the whole period, those bound to service, 
there is no lack of evidence to show that this class formed a signifi- 
cant part of the population, in several of the colonies, and especially 
in Pennsylvania. The combined evidence of letters, laws, statistics, 
newspapers of the time and acts of the Assemblies, gives ample 
testimony of the important part played by the servant in the history 
of the colony. 

Just as the cotton interests in the South demanded with its de- 
velopment an increasing number of slaves, so the agricultural, and 
other industries of Pennsylvania seem to have demanded for their 
development, laborers bound for a number of years. "The labor 
of the plantations," says Franklin in 1759, "is performed chiefly by 
indentured servants, brought from Great Britain, Ireland, and Ger- 
many ; because the high price it bears, cannot be performed any 
other way. 2 The Rev. H. M. Muhlenberg who was engaged in 
pastoral work in Pennsylvania during the middle of the 18th 
century, makes frequent mention in his reports to the church at 
Halle, of preaching to congregations largely made up of German 
servants. In 1750 he writes, "On the last of April I made a journey 
to Lancaster; on my return, May 2, an English judge informed me 
that there were in that vicinity, many German servants, both men 
and women, and that he hoped I might be able to preach to them." 3 
The importance of this class is further shown in a letter of the presi- 
dent of the Provincial Council to General Shirley complaining of 
the enlistment of servants for the Canada expedition of 1756: "I 
need not remonstrate to you who is so well acquainted with the 
circumstances of this province, and who knows every kind of busi- 
ness here, as well among the Tradesmen and Mechanics as the 
Planters and Farmers, is chiefly carried on and supported by the 
labor of indentured servants, nor what distress must be brought on 
the province in general, if the inhabitants are deprived of the only 
means of subsisting their families and contributing their reasonable 
quota toward any future expedition his Majesty may set on foot on 



1 See J. R. Brackett, "The Negro in Maryland," p. 21. 

~ Quoted in the History of Montgomery County, p. 289. Philadelphia, 
1884. 

3 Hallischen Nachrichten, I: 505; reprinted, Allentown, Pa., 1886. 

The first schoolmaster in New Jersey, in 1676, was to "do his faithful, 
honest, and true Endeavor to teach the children or servants of those as have 
subscribed, the reading and writing of English, etc." — Coll. of N. J. Hist. 
Soc. I: 246n. Newark, 1875. 



Significance of Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 25 

this continent against his enemies." 4 The reply from Shirley that 
"the officers have assured me that they cannot complete their regi- 
ments in time without entertaining indentured servants," 5 is still 
further evidence of their number and importance in the Colony. 

In some of the colonies especially Maryland, there was a more 
important service than merely performing labor as a means of sub- 
sistence, demanded of white servants. This is set forth in a petition 
before the House of Commons of "divers Merchants, masters of 
Ships, Planters, and others trading to foreign Plantations." The 
petitioners insist "that the plantations cannot be maintained without 
a considerable number of white servants, as well to keep the blacks 
in subjection as to bear arms in case of invasion." 9 In South Caro- 
lina it was likewise feared that the great number of negroes im- 
ported into the province might endanger the safety thereof, if speedy 
care were not taken and encouragement given for the importation 
of white servants. It was for this reason that New Jersey in 1714 
passed an act laying a duty on slaves imported into that province, 
as well as for the purpose of the "encouragement of white servants 
and for the better peopling of that country." 7 

There was a continual conflict between the institutions of slavery 
and indentured service. Though the fear that the blacks might 
become the predominant race was not so great in Pennsylvania 
as in some of the neighboring colonies, it was frequently entertained 
by the colonists. White labor was preferred to negro labor gener- 
ally, and the chief reason that slavery became the prevailing system 
in some of the colonies, was, because the service was for life instead 
of for a limited term of years. Had the term of service been equal, 
slavery would never have been of so great a consequence, and 
probably would never have gained a firm footing on American soil. 

Indentured servants are mentioned in the earliest documents 
relating to the history of Pennsylvania. The same is true of New 
Jersey and many of the other colonies. Nearly all of the first set- 
tlers brought with them a number of servants. When William 
Penn was made proprietary Governor of Pennsylvania in 1681, he 
agreed with the first adventurers to give 50 acres of land for every 
servant brought into the colony, the servant to possess the land 
after the term of indenture had expired. From the original war- 



4 Minutes of the Provincial of Penn. VI: 777; Harrisburg, 1851. 

5 Penn. Archives, Sam'l Hazard; II: 578; Phila., 1853. 

6 Journal of the House of Commons, vol. X. Nov. 2, 1691. 

7 Archives of New Jersey; first series; I: 196. 



26 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

rants 8 of surveys, it appears that whole townships were set apart as 
"Servants or head-land." The original land records show that 
4571 1 acres were surveyed and granted "to sundry servants of the 
first purchasers and adventurers into Pennsylvania." Allowing fifty 
acres for each servant, and dividing the whole amount of servant 
land by the number of acres each servant received, we have about 
ninety of the first purchasers who received land. The number of 
so-called "First purchasers" to whom these concessions were ex- 
clusively made, was about six hundred. The proportion of bound 
servants to the first purchasers in Pennsylvania, was, therefore, so 
far as records show, about one-sixth. 9 

After the first settlements were founded, the proportion of ser- 
vants seem to have been somewhat larger. In the estimated 
cost of emigrating to Pennsylvania, as set forth in 1682 in a pam- 
phlet by William Penn, the computation is made on a basis of two 
servants to a family of five. Accounts of individual settlers, where 
mention is made of the number brought with them, would indicate 
that the proportion of servants was much larger. Daniel Pastorius, 
one of the founders of Germantown, brought with him in a com- 
pany of nine, four men servants. 10 "The number of servants in 
Maryland" says Brackett, "seems to have been quite large, some 
colonists bringing as many as 20 or 30 or more. We hear of one 
who brought in over 60." 1X The early records of New Jersey show 
that the pioneer settlers likewise brought with them a large number 
of servants. 12 From these, and various other sources, it is safe to 



8 The warrants were sometimes in the following form: "Whereas, A. B. 
hath made it appear that he came into this province with the first adven- 
turers a servant to C. D. and hath thereupon requested that we would grant 
him to take up his portion of the headland, etc." Some contain the words, 
"In the townships allotted to servants." — History of Chester County, (Pa.) : 
155. Phila., 1881. See appendix VII. 

9 A list of the first purchasers is given in John Reed's "Explanation of 
the City and Liberties of Philadelphia." Also in Lawrence Lewis' "Original 
Land Titles in Philadelphia." Phila., 1880. 

10 Pennypacker, Settlement of Germantown: 82. Phila., 1899. 

11 J. R. Brackett, The Negro in Maryland: 21. 

12 Following are the names of some of the pioneer settlers of Perth Am- 
boy, New Jersey, and the number of servants that each brought: Stephen 
and Thomas Warne in 1683 brought 11 servants. 

Thomas Fullerton and wife in 1684 brought 10 servants. 

Robert Fullerton in 1684 brought 9 servants. 

David Mudie in 1684 brought 13 servants. 

Thomas Gordon in 1684 brought 7 servants. 

John Campbell in 1684 brought 11 servants. 

John Barclay in 1685 brought 6 servants. 



Significance of Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 2J 

estimate that at least one-third of the early immigrants were ser- 
vants. This proportion was maintained until in 1708 (circa) the 
German Palatines came in large numbers. There is little evidence 
concerning servants from this time to 1727, but their number was 
probably not very large as the German immigrants up to this date 
usually possessed sufficient means to pay for their passages. But 
the year 1728 marks the beginning of an immigration of a large 
number of redemptioners and indentured servants, and the history 
of immigration from this time to the end of the century is practically 
that of servants under various conditions. The number that arrived 
in Pennsylvania may, therefore, best be seen by a brief outline of 
immigration in general, since their influx during certain periods, 
was generally speaking, proportional to the whole number of immi- 
grants. These periods may be divided as follows : 

First; 1682 to 1708. During this period, Welsh, English, 
Dutch, and Germans arrive, the Welsh being the most numerous 
and influential class. 

Second; 1708 to 1728. This period begins with a large influx 
of Germans from the Palatinate, driven thence by the wars of Louis 
XIV. They were, as above stated, generally speaking, a well to do 
class ; comparatively few of them were servants. 

Third; 1728 to 1804. This, like the second period, is character- 
ized by the large number of Germans, and by an especially large and 
increasing number of servants. The Germans having established 
themselves in the new colony, now write to their friends, many of 
whom are poor, and the latter, to better their condition, leave their 
homes and sell themselves as servants for a term of years in return 
for passage to Philadelphia. The Scotch-Irish also began to form 
settlements in Pennsylvania at the opening of this period, and for 
a quarter of a century were a considerable part of the immigrants. 



CHAPTER IV. 

HISTORICAL SKETCH OF IMMIGRATION. 

In 1 68 1, a year before William Penn arrived, three ships, two 
from London and one from Bristol, sailed for Pennsylvania. 1 Their 
passengers were called "first landers" by those who followed. Within 
the first year after proper requisites were made for a regular settle- 
ment, between twenty and thirty ships with passengers arrived, and 
according to Proud, the early historian of Pennsylvania, "many of 
them brought servants." In 1684, the population had increased to 
7000 ; the government was now fully established, Philadelphia laid 
out, the province divided into six counties and twenty-two town- 
ships. 2 With the increase of population came an increase of crime 
and disorder, not because the character of the citizens had under- 
gone a change, but because England was sending her convicts to 
the colonies. 3 

The class of indentured servants was not recruited from immi- 
grants alone. The courts of this period and for many years after, 
frequently sentenced freemen to be sold into servitude for a period 
of years, in order to liquidate fines or other debts ; many sold them- 
selves voluntarily, or were sold for a specified time ; orphan children 
were brought to the court to be "adjudged," there being on one oc- 
casion, in the Chester County Court, in 1697, thirty-three whose 
terms of service were fixed by the court. 4 It was common during 
the whole colonial period for those who wished to learn a trade to 
bind themselves as apprentices by indenture. Frequently parents 



1 Proud's History of Pennsylvania; I: 193. 

2 In 1699, the population of the Province was 20,000. 

3 "The title of redemptioners was a cloak under which many an evil-doer 
left his country 'for his country's good' to prey upon the peace-loving com- 
munity of friends." Scharf and Westcott; Hist, of Phila., I: 856; Phila., 
1884. "There was a popular prejudice against subjecting Christians into 
slavery or selling them into foreign parts, but Cromwell did not draw any 
such distinctions. Not only did his agents systematically capture Irish 
youths and girls for export to the West Indies, but all the garrison who 
were not killed in the Drogheda Massacre were shipped as slaves to the 
Barbadoes." — Cunningham. Growth of Eng. Industry and Com. in Mod. 
Times; 109, Cambridge, 1892. 

4 Hist, of Chester County: 430. Philadelphia, 1881. 



Historical Sketch of Immigration. 29 

bound their children, by the consent of the latter, in return for which 
they were to be instructed in the rudiments of an education or a 
trade. 5 Franklin in 1717, says in his autobiography: "My bookish 
inclination at length determined my father to> make me a printer 
* * * * I stood out sometime, but at last was persuaded, and 
signed the indenture, when I was yet but twelve years old. I was 
to serve an apprenticeship till I was twenty-one years of age, only 
I was to be allowed journeyman's wages during the last year." 6 

"The period from 1702 to 1727," says Rupp, 7 "marks an era in 
the early German emigration. Between forty and fifty thousand 
left their native country." 8 In 1708 the first body of Palatines was 
sent to New York, upon the charity of the Queen, and planted on 
the Hudson. During the next thirty years many of them sold their 
holdings and joined their countrymen in the Province of Pennsyl- 
vania. In June, 1709, the number of Palatines that arrived in Eng- 
land was upwards of ten thousand. So great was the influx that it 
caused great complaint in England, and orders were sent to- the 
agents on the continent to prevent "any more being sent over, till 
those already come should be provided for and settled." 9 The 
great majority of those who came to England at this time were with- 
out means, and were allowed from the public purse 6d. per day to 
each Palatine, and briefs were issued to the churches in many parts 
of the Kingdom calling for offerings for the support of this benevo- 
lence. 10 In spite of the efforts put forth by the Queen, for their 



"Henry Nayl brought a servant boy to Court whose name is Alexander 
Stewart, whose time the said Nayl had bought of Francis Chadsey, and the 
said boy consents and agrees to serve the said Henry Nayl one year and a 
quarter above his time by record, if the said Henry Nayl teach him the trade 
of Shoemaker; if not the said Nayl to allow the said boy satisfaction for the 
over plus time as the court shall allow." — Quoted in Hist, of Chester County, 
431. Phila., 1881. 

"William Cope bought a boy whose name is Thomas Harper, who was 
adjudged to serve five years and three-quarters, if he be taught to read and 
write, or else to serve but five years, to him or his assigns." — Ibid.: 430. 

6 Franklin's Autobiography: 36. Phila., 1895. 

r Collection of Thirty Thousand Names of Immigrants in Pennsylvania, 
p. 2. 

8 A good account of "The German Exodus to England," in 1709, is given 
in the Pa. German Society Publication. Vol. VII: 257 et seq., by F. R. Dif- 
fenderffer. 

9 Journal, House of Commons. Vol. XVI: 597. 

10 The Palatine or German Immigration to New York. — Pamphlet by S. 
H. Cobb. P. 11. 1897. 



jo Rede7nptioners and Indentured Servants. 

care and settlement, seven thousand, after suffering great privation 
returned in great despondency to their native country. Ten thou- 
sand died for want of sustenance, medical attendance and other 
causes, before they could be transported to their destination. 11 Of 
the whole number that landed in England, about two-thirds came 
to America. 

In 1709, Governor Hunter, who succeeded Lovelace in New 
York, proposed to the Lords of Trade to take the Palatines to New 
York and employ them in the manufacture of naval stores, tar, 
pitch, and turpentine, in the pine forests of that Province. The pro- 
position was accepted and at once put into effect. In order to pay 
the cost of transportation and subsistence, to the amount of ten thou- 
sand pounds sterling, a contract was made between the Palatines 
and the Board of Trade : They were to be fed and clothed by the 
government and required to work until the expense of transporta- 
tion and maintenance was repaid. Each man was to receive five 
pounds, and forty acres of land, at the time of settlement, and was 
not to leave the place designated by the Governor to be settled, 
without his consent or fail to labor faithfully. On the 25th of De- 
cember, over 4000 embarked in ten ships for New York, landing 
after six months voyage, during which over a third of their number 
died at sea. This was the largest single emigration to America in 
the colonial period. Many of the children who were left orphans 
were apprenticed to citizens of New York and New Jersey. 12 About 
1200 were settled on the Livingstone manor where they received 
harsh treatment and rose repeatedly in revolt. The experiment of 
developing naval supplies proved a failure which involved the loss 
of the Governor's own fortune. They were asked to settle for them- 
selves. About a third remained on the manor ; the rest moved to 
the Scholarie Valley in 1712, the place originally designed for them. 
When they had remained here about ten years, they were required, 
owing to some defect in their title, either to purchase a new title or 
be deprived of the land and improvements. This caused many to 
again seek new quarters. Governor Keith of Pennsylvania, learn- 
ing of their vicissitudes, invited them to settle in his province, and 
in the spring of 1723, thirty-three families responded to his welcome 
by settling in Tulpehocken, about fifteen miles west of Reading; a 



11 1. D. Rupp, Collection, etc.: 5. 

" The number of children apprenticed by Gov. Hunter from 1710 to 1714 
was 75. They were between three and fifteen years of age. — Rupp's Col- 
lection, etc.: 445. 



Historical Sketch of Immigration. ji 

few years afterwards others followed them. 13 This incident marks a 
turning point in the history of New York and Pennsylvania, for 
it changed the current of immigration from the former to the latter 
province. Henceforth, to the Palatine mind, New York was a 
province of cruelty and misfortune. Their harsh treatment at the 
hands of Governor Hunter in contrast with the privileges and se- 
curity granted to them by Governor Keith, was made known to 
their fellow countrymen in Germany and for the next forty years 
the Palatines avoided New York. 14 Emigration was now organ- 
ized on a large scale. A committee on transportation was formed 
at Rotterdam, which now was the chief port as well for the Swiss 
and French population as for the inhabitants of the Rhine valley ; 
between it and Philadelphia ships plied every summer, with regular- 
ity for the next forty years. 15 

On account of persecution and oppression in Switzerland, a 
large body of Mennonites fled from the Cantons of Zurich, Bern, 
and Schaffhausen about the year 1672, to Alsace, on the Rhine. 
Here they remained till in 1708, they emigrated to London and 
thence to Pennsylvania where they made their home atGermantown. 
In 1712, they purchased land in the Pequa Valley and there formed 
the nucleus of a rapidly increasing Swiss, French, and German 
population, to which there were large accessions in 171 1 and 1717. 16 

At this time the number of Swiss and Germans in the colony in- 
creased so rapidly that it caused general alarm among the English 
colonists and led to restrictive measures on the so-called "foreign" 
immigration. It was feared that Pennsylvania might cease to be 



13 1. D. Rupp. Collection of 30,000 names of immigrants in Pa.: 5f. ; also 
S. H. Cobb. The Palatines or Ger. Immi. to N. Y. and Pa., p. i6ff. See 
also. The Story of the Palatines by the same author. 

14 The Germans, not satisfied with being themselves removed from New 
York wrote to their relatives and friends, and advised them, if ever they in- 
tended to come to America, not to go to New York, where the government 
had shown itself unequitable. This advice had such influence that the Ger- 
mans who afterwards went in great numbers to North America, constantly 
avoided New York and always went to Pennsylvania. It sometimes hap- 
pened that they were forced to go on board of such ships, as were bound 
for New York, but they were scarce got ashore, when they hastened on to 
Pennsylvania, in sight of all the inhabitants of New York." — Peter Kalm, 
Travels in America, 1 : 270 ff. 

16 The Palatine or German Immigration to New York and Pa. Pamphlet, 
S. H. Cobb: p. 29. 1897. 

16 1. D. Rupp, Collection, etc.: 7 ff. 



32 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

a British province. Governor Keith stated to his council "that great 
numbers of foreigners from Germany, strangers to our language 
and constitution, * * * * daily dispersed themselves imme- 
diately after landing, without procuring certificates from whence 
they came or what they are * * * * That this practice might 
be of very dangerous consequence, since by the same method, any 
number of foreigners, from any nation whatever, enemies as well 
as friends, might throw themselves upon us." 1T The subject was 
discussed in the assembly till finally a bill was passed forbidding 
foreign immigration altogether. 18 This, however, was vetoed by 
the Governor on the ground of its cruelty. 

To counteract the German element therefore every inducement 
on the part of England was thrown out to encourage the transporta- 
tion of English servants to the colonies. Measures were even 
adopted for transporting convicts, who, like servants, were bound 
for a term of years, the time of indenture being from seven to four- 
teen years. In 1718, a statute was passed stating that, "Whereas in 
many of his Majesties Colonies and Plantations in America there is 
a great want of servants who by their labor and industry might be 
the means of improving and making the said Colonies and Planta- 
tions more useful to the nation, Be it enacted * * * * that 
when any persons have been convicted of any offence within the 
benefit of the clergy before January 20th, 1717, and are liable to be 
whipped or burnt in the hand * * * * it shall be lawful for 
the court before whom they are convicted * * * * to order 
and direct that such offenders * * * * shall be sent to some 
of the Majesty's Colonies and Plantations in America for the space 
of seven years. When the penalty for crime is death, they shall be 
transported for fourteen years." 19 Against this statute, there were 
strong remonstrances on the part of Pennsylvania. The colony had 
hitherto been free from this pernicious class, though it was not long 
before the effect of this law was felt as is shown by the following act 
of the assembly, dated February 14th, 1729: "All masters of vessels, 
Merchants or others, who shall import * * * * into any Port 
or place belonging to this province * * * * any person in the 
condition of a servant or otherwise * * * * who hath been 
convicted * * * * shall before the convict be landed, pay 



17 Quoted in I. D. Rupp. — Collection, etc.: 9. See also Hist, of Mont- 
gomery Co. (Pa.): 135; Phila., 1884. 

18 The Palatine or German Immigration: 30. 

18 Statutes at Large. V: 174; 4 Geo. I C. 11. Sect. I. London, 1763. 



Historical Sketch of Immigration. jj 

the sum of five pounds and give security of fifty pounds to the 
Treasurer for his good behavior." 20 

To protect the province further from a non-productive and shift- 
less class common to many of the colonies, an act was passed in the 
same session by the Assembly prohibiting the importation of "Old 
persons, Infants, Maimed, Lunatics, or Vagabonds or Vagrant per- 
sons." In case they were imported they were to be brought before 
the Mayor or Justice of the Peace and examined, and if likely to be- 
come a public charge, the master or importer was required to send 
them back where they came from, or indemnify the inhabitants of 
the province from any charge that might come or be brought upon 
them by the presence of such persons. 

The agitation and alarm begun in 1717, caused by the constant 
increase of foreigners in the years following, resulted in more active 
measures in 1727. The Governor and assembly showed themselves 
in a complete panic in regard to the influx of the Palatines and other 
foreigners. 21 A meeting of the council was called in which "The 
Governor acquainted the board that he had called them together at 
this time to inform them that there is lately arrived from Hol- 
land, a Ship with four hundred Palatines, * * * * and that 
they will very soon be followed by a much greater number who de- 
sign to settle in the back parts of the province ; and as they trans- 
plant themselves without any leave attained from the Crown of 
Great Britain, and settle themselves upon the Proprietor's untaken 
up lands without any application to the Proprietor or his Commis- 
sioners of property, or to the government in general, it would be 
highly necessary to concert measures for the peace and security of 
the province which may be endangered by such numbers of 
strangers daily poured in, who being ignorant of our Language and 
Laws, and settling in a body together, make, as it were, a distinct 
people from his Majesty's Subjects." 22 Masters of vessels import- 
ing "foreigners" as they were then called, were now ordered to get 
permission from the Court of Great Britain to bring them into the 
colony. And it was further ordered, "that a list shall be taken of 
the names of all these people, their several occupations, and the 
place from whence they came, * * * * And further, that a 
writing be drawn up for them to sign, declaring their Allegiance 
and Subjection to the King of Great Britain, and Fidelity to the 



Acts of Assembly of the Province of Pa. p. 159. Phila., 1775. 

Scharf and Westcott. Hist, of Phila. I: 203. 

Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pa. (Col. Rec.) Ill: 283. 



34 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Proprietary of this province, and that they will demean themselves 
peaceably towards all his Majesties Subjects, and strictly observe, 
and conform to the laws of England and of this Government." 23 
This act was unique in Colonial legislation and preserved the names 
of upwards of 30,000 immigrants, the original lists of which may still 
be found at Harrisburg. 24 

The first body of Palatines that arrived after this act was passed, 
consisted of about four hundred persons. Only males above the 
age of sixteen were required to actually take the oath of allegiance. 
It appears from the records of the Provincial Council that the mas- 
ters of vessels did not get permission from "the Court of Great 
Britain" as requested, but instead, merely an "Affidavit signed by 
the Officers of the Customs" in England. 

Not content with the precautionary measures taken by the As- 
sembly in requiring an oath of allegiance, under instructions from 
the home government, they passed an act in 1729, imposing a duty 
of twenty shillings on all foreign servants imported into the 
Province. 2- "' There are no data showing the exact proportion of in- 
dentured servants that arrived at this time, but as this act was 
passed to arrest the influx of Germans, it is quite evident that the 
majority were redemptioners. In the newspapers of this time fre- 
quent advertisements appear of which the following, in 1728, is a 
sample : "Lately imported and to be sold cheap, a parcel of likely 
men and women servants." 

During the following year 267 English and Welsh, and 43 
Scotch servants arrived. The majority of Germans who came as 



23 Ibid: 283. 

24 They have been collected by I. D. Rupp, and published in a book en- 
titled "A Collection of Thirty Thousand Names of Immigrants in Pennsyl- 
vania." 

All male persons above the age of 16 subscribed to the following Declara- 
tion: "We subscribers, natives and late inhabitants of the Palatine upon the 
Rhine and places adjacent, having transported ourselves and families into 
this Province of Pennsylvania, a colony subject to the crown of Great 
Britain, in hopes and expectation of finding a retreat therein, Do solemnly 
promise and engage that we will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His 
present Majesty, King George the Second, and His successors, Kings of Great 
Britain, and will be faithful to the proprietor of this Province; and that we 
will demean ourselves peacefully to all His said Majesty's Subjects, and 
strictly observe and conform to the Laws of England and of this Province, 
to the utmost of our power and the best of our understanding." — Colonial 
Record, III: 283. Phila., 1852. 

25 Col. Rec. Ill; 360. 



Historical Sketch of Immigration. 



35 



redemptioners were agricultural laborers, and acquired land of their 
own as soon as their term of service had expired. In 1734 the total 
number of landholders in Montgomery County was 760 of whom 
395 were Germans. However, every occupation was represented by 
this class. The same vessel that brought the schoolmaster and 
shoemaker, brought also the minister and the tanner. Out of less 
than 3000 German Protestant males who arrived in London in 1709, 
twenty-five different occupations were represented. 26 \\\s-^ Q 

From 1730 to 1740 about sixty-five vessels well filled with Ger- 
mans arrived at Philadelphia. From 1740 to 1755 upwards of one 
hundred vessels arrived, some of which though small carried 600 
passengers. 27 In 1749 immigration was larger than at any time 
during the colonial period. During this year twenty-five vessels ar- 
rived at Philadelphia, landing above 7000 passengers. 28 



26 The total number of males and females that arrived in London in 1709, 



1281523 



was 11,294; °f the males there were: 

Husbandmen, 1838 Limeburners, 8 

Bakers, 78 Schoolmasters, 18 

Masons, 477 Engravers, 2 

Carpenters, 124 Brickmakers, 3 

Shoemakers, 68 Silversmiths, 2 

Tailors, 99 Smiths, 35 

Butchers, 29 Herdsmen, 3 

Millers, 45 Blacksmiths, 48 

Tanners, 14 Potters, 3 

Weavers, 7 Turners, 6 

Saddlers, 13 Barbers, 1 

Glassblowers, 2 Surgeons, 2 

Hatters, 3 

Of the whole number there were 2556 who had families. — Pa. German 
Soc. VII; 321. 

27 Rupp. Hist, of Northumberland, etc.; 53. Lancaster, 1847. 
23 Letter from Rev. Henry Melchoir Muhlenburg, quoted in Rupp's Hist, 
of Northumberland, etc. 58. Lancaster, 1847. 

The arrivals from Aug. 24th to Nov. 9th, 1749, are as follows: 

Aug. 24, 240 passengers. Sept. 26, 840 passengers. 

Sept. 27, 260 
Sept. 28, 242 
Oct. 2, 249 
Oct. 7, 450 
Oct. 10, 250 
Oct. 17, 480 
Nov. 9, 77 

and Topography of Northumberland, etc. 54. Lancaster, 



Aug. 


30, 


500 


Sept. 


2, 


340 


Sept. 


9, 


400, " 


Sept. 


11. 


299 


Sept. 


14, 


333 


Sept. 


15, 


930 


Sept. 


19, 


372 


Sept. 


25, 


240 


Rupp's H 
7- 


1st. 


and Topo| 



36 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

The population of Pennsylvania at this time has been variously 
estimated, the average of which may be placed at 230,000, the Ger- 
mans constituting about one-half of the population.- 9 At the time 
of the French and Indian War, it was estimated that there were 
60,000 imported white servants of the several grades in the Province 
and sometimes as many as 3000 or 4000 would be enlisted in the 
quotas of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. 30 These, it 
must be remembered, were actually under indenture at the time, and 
formed but a small portion of those who had at some time been 
bound to service, and were now classed as freemen. 31 

From 1725 to the middle of the century a considerable number 
of Scotch-Irish arrived who settled chiefly in Dauphin and Cumber- 
land Counties. Many of these also came as servants, for on the 
10th of July, 1741, a shipload from Cork is advertised for sale con- 
sisting largely of "tradesmen of various sorts." 32 They began to 
arrive about 1720 and came chiefly from the north of Ireland. 
Many of them were the descendants of the Irish Protestants who 
during the reign of Charles I, had by massacres and inhumanity 



29 Loeher, Geschichte, etc. 75. 

Rush, Manners of the Germans, etc. 5 

30 A reply from the army officers of Pa. to the Assembly concerning com- 
plaints of enlistment states, "It is the opinion of this board * * * that 
as a moderate computation we conceive not less than 60,000 (servants) have 
been imported into the province within twenty years; the number of men 
raised here may well be spared." — Col. Rec. IV: 468. Aug. 20, 1740. 

81 In Maryland the census of 1752 gives the following proportion of Free- 
men, Indentured Servants, and Convicts: 

Men, . . . 

Women, . . 

Boys, . . . 

Girls, . . . 

Total, .... 98357 6870 1981 107208 

Maryland had a larger number of negro slaves, and consequently not so 
many indentured servants as Pa. — See E. D. Niell Terra Mariae: 211. Phila., 
1867. 

82 "Just arrived from Cork, in the Snow Penguin, Robert Morris, Master, 
A Parcel of likely Servants, used to country work, as also tradesmen of vari- 
ous sorts, such as taylors, carpenters, coopers, joyners, clothiers, weavers, 
shoemakers, sawyers, chimney sweepers, gardner, tanner, sadler, baker, 
nailer, smith, barber, hatter, ropemaker; whose times are to be disposed of 
by the said Master on board said Snow, lying off against Market-street 
wharfe, or Edward Bridges at his house (commonly called the Scales) for 
ready money or the usual credit." — Phila. Gazette. July 16, 1741. 



Free. 


Ind. Serv. 


Convicts. 


Total. 


24508 


3576 


1507 


29141 


23521 


1824 


386 


25731 


26637 


1049 


67 


27752 


24141 


422 


21 


24584 



Historical Sketch of Immigration. 37 

been driven from Ireland in 1641, and many of whom fled into the 
north of Scotland, whence the north of Ireland had been colonized. 
It was among this class in Scotland and the north of Ireland that 
the act of uniformity passed by Parliament in 1662 had met with 
the greatest opposition. In 1713 the Schism Act under Queen 
Anne was passed, which deprived Dissenters of the means of educat- 
ing their children in their own religious beliefs by crushing all Non- 
conformist schools. These difficulties and the unsettled state of 
affairs in Europe drove many from their native country. Among 
those who came to Pennsylvania were genuine Scotch as well as 
Scotch-Irish. 33 James Logan, Secretary to the Proprietaries, 
writes in 1729, "It looks as if Ireland is to send all her inhabitants 
hither, for last week not less than six ships arrived, * * * * 
The common fear is, that if they continue to come, they will make 
themselves proprietors of the province. Besides these many con- 
victs are imported hither." 34 On account of frequent disturbances 
between the governor and the Irish settlers, the proprietaries gave 
orders in 1750 to their agents to sell no land in York and Lancaster 
Counties to the Irish, and also to make advantageous offers to en- 
courage the Irish settlers to move to Cumberland county, which 
afterwards became their chief place of settlement. 

Although it had not been found practicable to restrict immigration 
from the Continent the political influence of the Germans was held 
in check up to 1731, by withholding from them the right of suffrage. 
In this year a petition was sent to the Assembly by the Germans in- 
habiting the county of Philadelphia, wherein they pray "that they 
may be permitted to enjoy the rights and privileges of English sub- 
jects." 35 This right was granted, and by the middle of the century 
their numbers had increased to such an extent that their political 
power became a source of annoyance to the English colonists. In 
a letter of 1747, Governor Thomas says the Germans of Pennsylva- 
nia are three-fifths of the population. Franklin, in a letter dated 
May 9th, 1753, says, "They import many books from Germany, and 
of the six printing houses in the Province two are entirely German, 
two half-German and half-English, and but two are entirely English. 
The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages and 
some places only in German. They begin of late to make their 
bonds and other legal instruments in their own language, which are 



Rupp's Hist, of Dauphin County; 51. 

Quoted. Ibid. 52. 

Hist, of Montgomery County; 135. Phila., li 



3$ Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

allowed good in our courts where the German business so increases 
that there is continual need of interpreters, and I suppose in a few 
years they will also be necessary in the Assembly to tell one-half of 
our legislators what the other half says. In short, unless the stream 
of importation can be turned from this to the other colonies * * 
* * they will soon outnumber us, that all the advantages we 
have, will, in my opinion, be not able to preserve our language, 
and even our Government will become precarious." 30 

A manuscript pamphlet in the Franklin Library at Philadelphia, 
supposed to have been written by Samuel Wharton, shows that the 
Germans, in 1755, were becoming independent and that they now 
largely controlled the political policy of the colony. He says they 
ally themselves with the Friends, through Sauer, who was an influ- 
ential publisher of a German newspaper ; that they are insolent and 
call all those who do not ally with their party, the "Governor's men," 
and that they deem themselves strong enough to make the country 
their own. "Indeed, they come in such force, say upwards of 5000 
in the last year, I see not but that they may be able to give us lan- 
guage too, or else, by joining the French eject all English. That 
this may be the case is, too, much feared, for almost to a man they 
refused to bear arms in the time of the late war, and they say it is all 
one to them which King gets the country, as their estates will be 
equally secure. Indeed, it is clear the French have turned their 
hopes upon this great body of Germans." 37 The fear of an alliance 
with the French, which seems to have been shared by a number at 
this time, had no foundation in fact, for there is no evidence of any 
disloyalty on the part of the Germans at any time during the history 
of Pennsylvania, any more than among the English colonists them- 
selves. But their ever increasing proportion to the whole popula- 
tion gave them at this time a political power which excited the 
jealousy of the parties. They were powerful makeweights in the 
political balance and their influence was sought by every party. 
This was the significance of the immigrants in the middle of the 
century, who left the Rhine for Pennsylvania, the majority of whom 
came as redemptioners. They were, by their industry, the principal 
instruments in raising the state to the conditions which made it rank 
foremost among the English Colonies. 38 

In 1762 the large number of negroes imported into Pennsylva- 



Quoted in Hist, of Montgomery Co. 137. Phila., 1884. 

I. D. Rupp, Hist, of Dauphin, Cumberland, etc.; 48. Lancaster, i£ 

Benj. Rush, Manners of German Inhabitants of Pa. Phila., 1875. 



Historical Sketch of Immigration. jp 

nia, brought forth remonstrances, for slave labor was now threat- 
ening to drive out or destroy the system of white service. There 
was also a strong moral sentiment against slavery among the Ger- 
man Friends. As early as 1688 resolutions were passed in a 
Quaker meeting protesting against slavery — the first official action 
against the institution in America. In 1758, they voted in their gen- 
eral meeting to excommunicate every member of the society who 
should persist in keeping slaves. 39 The Assembly passed a law im- 
posing a prohibitory duty on the importation of slaves, which was 
vetoed by the Crown. "Never before," says Bancroft, "had Eng- 
land pursued the traffic in Negroes with such eager avarice." 40 
In some colonies the importation of negroes lessened the trans- 
portation of white servants. In Pennsylvania, however, the latter 
were by far the most numerous and important laborers. Their ar- 
rival at Philadelphia from Germany continues to attract attention. 
A letter from Dr. Muhlenberg of January 7th, 1768, shows that the 
majority of Germans were servants, and that a greater number ar- 
rived than could be readily disposed of. He says, "Last Fall five 
or six ships filled with Germans arrived at Philadelphia, of which a 
large portion are still in the vessels, not only because their passage 
amounted to a large sum, but also on account of a general scarcity 
of money. They are not sold as readily as they formerly were, and 
must, therefore, submit to their misery." But in spite of the hard- 
ships and delays in finding purchasers they continued to pour into 
the province in undiminished numbers. 

The stream of German immigration for which every inducement 
had been thrown out during the beginning of the colony had grad- 
ually increased so that the newcomers were now unwelcome guests, 
especially in Philadelphia, but except during short intervals, as, for 
example, when during the hostilities between France and England, 
from 1756 to 1761, German emigration to Pennsylvania was entirely 
suspended, the momentum of the current was now too strong to. be 
turned back or even checked. The famine of 1770, in Germany, 
induced an unusually large wave to Pennsylvania, which lasted to 
1 79 1 During these years twenty-four ships on an average arrived 
annually at Philadelphia. 41 The Pennsylvania newspapers of this 
period contain a large number of notices of arrivals and sales of 
servants. The Pennsylvania Packet has an average of about twenty 



39 Brissot's America I; 232. London, 1794. 

40 Bancroft, Hist. U. S. IV; 421. 

41 Franz Loeher, Geschichte und Zustande, etc: 76. 

History of Germany, Wolfgang Menzel; III: 447. London, 1849. 



40 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

notices of "Runaway Servants," in each issue. 42 In 1789 the im- 
portation of Indentured Servants from Great Britain received a de- 
cisive check by an act of Parliament the intent of which was to pre- 
vent the indenturing, for transportation to America, of persons who 
might carry thither the manufacturing skill of Great Britain, but the 
terms of which were comprehensive enough to embrace laborers of 
all sorts. German redemptioners, however, continued to arrive as 
late as 183 1. 43 

Franz Loeher, in his Geschichte und Zustande der Deutschen in 
Amerika says, "The years in which an especially large number of 
redemptioners arrived in Pennsylvania, were, 1728, '29, '37, '41, '50, 
and 175 1." All later writers seem to have quoted him, and many 
seem to have inferred that redemptioners came by periods or in 
waves. This is true only to the extent that immigration varied in 
different periods. The years mentioned by Loeher, to which may 
be added 1732 and 1733, witnessed a large foreign immigration, and 
for this reason were years in which a large number of redemptioners 
and indentured servants arrived. But their importation was by no 
means entirely confined to the years referred to. Notices of their 
arrival may be found every year in the newspapers of the time. 
Thus in the Pensylvania Gazette of January 10th, 1739, we read of 
a "parcel of likely servants, whose times are to be disposed of, just 
imported in the ship Apollo." 44 Generally speaking, the number 
of bound servants, through extended periods, was proportional to 
the whole number of immigrants. 

The economic forces which gave rise to this species of servitude 
changed very slowly and were in constant operation from the found- 
ing of Pennsylvania until in the middle of the 19th century, the last 
remnants of the decaying institution disappeared. From 1682 to 



42 The Packet of Aug. 8th, 1774, contains twenty-one notices of runaways, 
four of them being convicts. 

43 Hildreth, History of the United States; I: 93. 

44 The number of arrivals according to Rupp. are given below. The ar- 
rivals from 1727 to 1738 includes all ages. From 1738 no names appear in 
the captains' lists, under sixteen years of age. 

1727 1214 1736 838 

1728 9§7 1737 1736 

1729 735 1738 3025 

1730 721 1739 l6 °3 

1731 632 1746 1131 

1732 2191 1749 7148 

1733 • 1432 1751 398i 

1734 388 1755 271 

1735 272 1756 109 



Historical Sketch of Immigration. 41 

1708 the proportion of servants to the whole number of immigrants 
was about one-third; from 1708, with the increase of Germans, to 
1728, a period in which they were impelled by the wars of Europe, 
the proportion of servants increased to about one-half the number 
of immigrants. From 1728 to the end of the century, the great ma- 
jority of Germans which constituted the main current of foreigners 
into Pennsylvania were redemptioners. The Scotch-Irish who 
formed a considerable portion of the immigrants from the beginning 
of this period to the middle of the century, came under almost the 
same force of circumstances as the early Germans, and like them, 
after they had established themselves invited their friends who were 
in poor circumstances, and paid their passages, in return for which 
the immigrants bound themselves. A comparison of statistics, from 
1786 to 1804, shows that the proportion of servants to all immi- 
grants was two-thirds for this period of nineteen years. 45 The com- 
bined evidence from newspaper notices of arrivals and sales, from 
court records, from laws, from the number of enlistments in the 
army, — in short, from every source permitting of an estimate, — in- 
dicates that this was approximately the proportion for the entire 
period. 46 

The beginning of the present century marks the decline of the 
institution of indentured service. Frequent arrivals of vessels, how- 
ever, still occur in which the majority of passengers are redemp- 
tioners. Robert Sutclift visiting his brother in Pennsylvania in 
1804, says, "I noticed that the two female servants employed in the 
family, had, both of them been lately hired from on board a vessel 
lying in the Delaware ; and which had recently arrived from Am- 
sterdam with several hundred Germans, men, women and children, 
of that description of people called, in America, Redemptioners." 47 



45 From the 19th of August, 1786, to December 31st, 1804, 3622 redemp- 
tioners registered at Philadelphia. During exactly the same period 5509 
foreign immigrants landed in the same city. All foreigners were requested to 
take the oath of allegiance to the Province and the Crown from 1727 to 17755 
and to the State after the Revolution. These names are printed in the Pa. 
Arch. 2d Series, XVII. All those who came as redemptioners during the 
latter part of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, were required 
to be registered at Philadelphia. Two MSS. volumes — Registry of Redemp- 
tioners — covering this period are in the Library of Hist. Soc. of Pa. 

46 i. e. 1728 to 1804. 

47 Robert Sutcliff, Travels in Some Parts of North America, p. 32. Lon- 
don, 1811. 

H. B. Fearon who travelled in America in 1817-18, visited a ship in the 
Delaware, having redemptioners on board. — Sketches of America: 148. 



42 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Though the system is declining, the German redemptioners are 
mentioned in statutes of Pennsylvania as late as 1818, and the Reg- 
istry of Redemptioners at Philadelphia shows that the last servant 
was bound in 183 1. 48 

On the 8th of February, 1819, a law was passed, "that no female 
shall be arrested or imprisoned, for, or by reason of any debt con- 
tracted after the passage of this act." With the final abolition of im- 
prisonment for debts the institution of indentured service received 
its legal death blow, and necessarily died out without any special 
enactment. 



48 The last original entry appearing on the Register is as follows: "Fred- 
ericks Witmire, of her own free will bound herself servant to John Seiser of 
the city of Philadelphia, Tailor, for two Years — at the expiration of the 
Term to have two complete suits of clothes one whereof to be new. Cons. 
$40." Dated Nov. 28, 1831. 



CHAPTER V. 



THE VOYAGE. 

The progress made within a century and a half, in transportation 
on land and sea, has been so marked that to one living in the pres- 
ent age a voyage across the ocean has a meaning entirely different 
from what it had to those who came as pioneers in colonial days. 
The rapidity with which vessels now ply between the ports of Europe 
and Amerca, and the conveniences offered to passengers, have 
so modified the mode of travel, that it is necessary to be reminded 
of former conditions in order to understand the significance of a 
voyage during the period in which the institution of indentured ser- 
vice was in existence. At that time the journey to America was the 
great bane of the immigrant. It was one of the direct causes of the 
system of indentured service. The number of passengers that were 
compelled to sell themselves into a limited term of servitude was 
largely determined by the misfortunes incident to the voyage. This 
becomes apparent in the light of the multifarious causes which op- 
erated to empty the purse of the passengers, and leave them desti- 
tute on landing in America. Thousands who left their native coun- 
try with sufficient means to pay their passages under favorable 
circumstances, and without ever dreaming of signing away their 
liberty by indenture, were, by adverse circumstances, compelled to 
submit to the conditions dictated by a master or a captain of a ves- 
sel in order to be landed. But the indenture and the burdens it 
imposed, were, to the majority, insignificant trials when compared 
to the hardships of the voyage itself. 

During the early period of immigration, pirates and privateers 
swarmed the coast of America, and they did not hesitate to prey 
upon any commerce that was within their reach. At the beginning 
of the 1 8th century, it was estimated that no less than 15,000 en- 
gaged in this business, infested our coast. From Newfoundland to 
South America, ships were in danger of being captured as prizes 
and plundered at sea, or carried into Cape Fear or Providence. 1 
The alarming extent to which this evil was carried, may be inferred 
from a letter of William Penn, in 1697, to Deputy Governor Mark- 



1 Pennsylvania German Society Publications; VIII: 84. 



44 Re dempti oners and Indentured Servants. 

ham of Pennsylvania, charging the Provincial Council with having 
"not only countenanced, but actually encouraged pirates." 2 On 
his second return to Pennsylvania in 1699, Penn convened the As- 
sembly for the purpose of enacting "two measures which in his 
opinion the existing state of affairs rendered imperative." One of 
these was "An act against pirates and privateers." In 171 1 a 
scheme is laid before Governor Hunter of New York to guard the 
coasts against ''the insults of French privateers which swarm the 
coasts where they not only take vast numbers of vessels, but have 
plundered several small towns and villages." This was an immi- 
nent danger which added to the dread of the long voyage. The 
German Pietists on their way to Pennsylvania in 1694, were attacked 
by three French privateers. A similar attempt was made on the 
vessel that brought Muhlenberg to Pennsylvania in 1742. His 
diary shows that all passengers were sometimes required to prepare 
for a defence : "Towards evening the captain ordered that every 
male person in the vessel should come on the quarterdeck and drill. 
They all came together, received their sabre, pistols, musket guns 
and powder. The captain showed each one the place where he 
should stand, in case a hostile attack should be made." 3 

The time of the voyage varied from five weeks to six months 
according to the conditions of the weather. William Penn's first 
voyage to America though under favorable circumstances, con- 
sumed two months ; his return in 1684, seven weeks. Pastorius' 
voyage to Pennsylvania in the same year required ten weeks ; 
another vessel leaving the same port and at the same time that Pas- 
torius sailed, required three months to complete the journey. The 
second trip of William Penn in 1699 to America lasted more than 
three months. The Salzburgers sailed for the coast of Georgia in 
two transports, one leaving England the beginning of January, 1734, 
and reaching Charleston March 18th, the other leaving England 
October 28th, 1735, and reaching Charleston February 15th, 1736. 
Muhlenberg's voyage, in 1742, from the coast of England to Phila- 
delphia, lasted over three months. The passengers of a vessel arriv- 
ing in Philadelphia in 1748, were, on account of an accident and 
unfavorable winds kept on board six months and ten days. 4 The 
journey for those who came from southern Germany in 1754 lasted 
"fully half a year amid such hardships as no one is able to describe 



2 Penn. German Society, VIII: 82 ff. 

3 Penn. German Society, VIII: 92. 

4 H. E. Jacobs. Penn. Ger. Soc. VIII: 87. 



The Voyage. 43 

adequately with their misery." 5 The passage from Holland to 
Cowes, England, alone, often required from two to< four weeks. 

The cost of transporting servants to Maryland in 1635 was esti- 
mated by Lord Baltimore, as being a little over 20 pounds per 
capita, including a year's provisions. 6 William Penn in 1682 esti- 
mated the cost of migration to Pennsylvania, "for man, woman, 
child and servant, as amounting to 20 pounds per capita." This 
estimate included "one year's keep until the land begins to produce 
crops." The actual cost was much higher than either of these 
estimates. 7 In 1708 Kocherthal, in a pamphlet on Carolina, 8 says, 
"In peace the fare is from five to six pounds sterling, but the cost 
of a convoy and other expenses raise it from seven to eight pounds 
for every adult." In 1720 the Palatines were sold for four and five 
years at ten pounds per head. Twenty years later, Peter Kalm says, 
"They commonly pay fourteen pounds Pennsylvania currency, for 
a person who is to serve four years and so on in proportion." 9 

During the middle of the 18th century, the cost from Rotterdam 
to Philadelphia, for all persons over ten years of age, was ten pounds ; 
children from five to ten years of age, five pounds ; children under 
five, free. "For these prices," says Mittleberger, 10 "the passengers 
are conveyed to Philadelphia, and as long as they are at sea, pro- 
vided with food. But this is only the sea passage ; the other costs 
on land, from home to Rotterdam, including the passage on the 
Rhine, are at least forty florins, no matter how economically one 
may live. No account is here taken of extraordinary contingencies. 
I may safely assert that with the greatest economy, many passen- 
gers have spent 200 florins (33 1-3 pounds) from home to Philadel- 
phia." During the latter part of the 18th century, and the begin- 
ning of the 19th, redemptioners were sold for their passage, at from 
$40 to $100 for periods of two, three, and four years. On an average 
the passage at this time was about fifty dollars per capita. 11 In 1818 
redemptioners were sold at Philadelphia at a somewhat higher rate. 
"The price for women," says Fearon, 12 "is about seventy dollars ; 



B Mittleberger's Journey to Pa. p. 18. Phila., 1898. 

6 A Relation of Maryland: 50; Ed. F. L. Hawks, Sabin's Reprints. 

7 Scharf and Wescott, Hist, of Phila: I: 142. 

8 Entitled, "Full and Circumstantial Report concerning the Renowned 
District of Carolina in English America." See Penn. Germ. Soc. VIII: 41. 

8 Peter Kalm, Travels, etc., II: 304. 
"Journey to Pennsylvania: 26. 

11 Registry of Redemptioners, MSS. 

12 Sketches of America: 150. 



zf.6 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants, 

men, eighty dollars ; boys, sixty dollars." Of course the cost of 
servants who were sold for their passage, was in a large measure 
regulated by the demand and supply. Those who came as free 
willers or redemptioners, were often at the mercy of the captains, 
who sold them as high as possible to purchasers to whom they were 
bound by indenture. 

Although occasionally a vessel is registered as sailing from 
Hamburg and Bremen, and late in the 18th century passengers ar- 
rived from Lisbon and the ports of France, the principal ports from 
which vessels of the continent sailed were Rotterdam and Amster- 
dam. The majority of the passengers who came from the South- 
ern provinces of Germany, sailed in boats down the Rhine to Rotter- 
dam, took passage to England and thence to America. To these 
the journey was extremely long and tedious. As late as 1750 the 
Rhine boats from Heilbronn to Holland passed thirty-six custom- 
houses, at all of which the ships were examined in detail, "when it 
suited the convenience of the custom-house officials." After arriv- 
ing at Holland the passengers were detained five or six weeks. 
"Because things are dear there," writes a passenger in 1754, "the 
poor people have to spend nearly all they have during that time." 13 
"Both in Rotterdam and Amsterdam the people are densely packed, 
in the large vessels. One person receives scarcely two feet width 
and six feet length in the bedstead, while many a ship carries four to 
six hundred souls ; not to mention the innumerable implements, tools, 
provisions, waterbarrels and other things which likewise occupy 
much space." 14 After a journey which sometimes lasted four 
weeks the vessels arrived at some port in England, the most com- 
mon one being Cowes. Here another delay of sometimes two 
weeks and even longer was encountered, during which custom 
duties were again collected and the vessels supplied with full cargoes 
for the ocean voyage. "During that time" says Mittleberger, 
"every one is compelled to spend his last remaining money and to 
consume his little stock of provisions which had been reserved for 
the sea; so that most passengers, finding themselves on the ocean 
where they would be in greater need of them, must greatly suffer 
from hunger and want." 15 But the greatest suffering to the ma- 
jority of those who came from the continent via England was while 
crossing the ocean. The shipping regulations in Holland before 



Mittleberger's Journey to Pa.: p. 18. 

Ibid. 

Ibid: 19. 



The Voyage. 4J 

T 755 were very remiss concerning passengers. No attempt seems 
to have been made to prevent frauds or to protect the rights of im- 
migrants. Confusion and disorder prevailed on embarking. Some- 
times one vessel was loaded almost entirely with baggage and chests 
which the passengers had filled with provisions for the voyage, and 
upon which the poor people unable to secure the necessities of life, 
largely depended. Other vessels were loaded almost entirely with 
passengers without regard to the necessary amount of provisions. 
"Many who at home had owned property, and converted it into 
money were robbed intransitu, by the ship owners, importers, sea 
captains and Neulanders. The emigrants' chests with their clothes, 
and sometimes their money were put on other vessels or ships, and 
left behind," 16 

A letter of Christopher Sauer, dated March 15, 1755, shows the 
lawless manner in which the shipping was carried on at Holland. 
It appears that at times monopolies were granted to certain individ- 
uals who controlled the shipping. The profit in passengers being 
much greater than in merchandise, vessels were sometimes so 
crowded with the latter that many were kept upon the upper deck, 
exposed to all kinds of weather. As a result the majority of these 
died, "so that in less than one year two thousand were buried in 
the sea." But the death of a passenger after more than one-half the 
voyage had been made, did not lessen the profit to the merchants, 
since relatives and friends of the deceased were held responsible for 
the payment of their passage. Under these unfavorable conditions 
it is not strange that the majority who landed at Philadelphia should 
be sold as servants. Contracts made with the avaricious merchants 
in Holland were disregarded. "When the ignorant Germans" says 
a writer, "agree fairly with the merchants at Holland for seven pis- 
toles and a half, when they come to Philadelphia the merchants 
make them pay whatever they please, and take at least nine pistoles, 
the poor people on board being prisoners and at the mercy of the 
captains. Anxious to- come ashore to satisfy hunger, they pay 
whatever is demanded * * * * and when their chests are put into 
stores, and by the time they have procured money of their friends to 
pay for what they have agreed, and more too, and demand their 
chests, they find them opened and plundered of their contents ; or 
sometimes they are not to be found." 1T Instances have occurred 



16 Benjamin Rush, Manners of the Early Germans of Pennsylvania; 
pp. 6, 7. 

17 Quoted in Rupp, Hist, of Northumberland, etc.: 55-57. Lancaster, 
1847. 

4 



48 Rede?nptioners and Indentured Servants. 

where the Holland merchants made a secret contract with the cap- 
tains to send passengers bound for Pennsylvania to another port in 
America, where the price of servants was higher. "Thus emigrants 
are compelled in Holland to submit to the wind and the captain's 
will." 1S In addition to the trials incident to an over-crowded ves- 
sel, were added those of an insufficient and inferior supply of food. 
Those who were not supplied with an extra stock of provisions, or 
whose chests containing the same, had been shipped in another ves- 
sel or left behind, in nearly all cases suffered for want of food ; and 
in case the voyage was extended beyond the ordinary time by ad- 
verse winds, or from other causes, starvation was the result. In 
fact a long voyage under the greatest precaution, rendered it difficult 
to carry sufficient provisions and keep them in good condition dur- 
ing the entire voyage. 19 

Under such conditions the rate of mortality was necessarily 
large. Scot, who chartered a ship to transport 130 passengers to 
East Jersey in 1685, lost thirty-five during the voyage, by deaths, 
and there is no account of any unusual accident to the vessel or to 
the passengers. 20 In 1732 a ship that had been at sea four months, 
lost 100 out of 150 passengers by starvation, Another vessel, sev- 
enteen weeks in its journey, lost sixty of its passengers. A ship 
sailing from Rotterdam in 1738 with four hundred Palatines lost 
seventy-seven per cent, of its passengers whose deaths were assigned 
to the bad condition of the water taken at Rotterdam. A vessel 
arriving at Philadelphia in 1745 landed but fifty survivors out of 
four hundred, most of the deaths having resulted from starvation. 



38 Mittleberger, Journey to Pa. : 40. 

10 Daniel Pastorius, in a letter of March 7, 1684, says "The fare on board 
was very bad. Every ten persons received each week three pounds of but- 
ter; daily four cans of beer, and two cans of water; at noon every day in the 
week, meat and fish three days, at noon, which we had to dress, with our own 
butter; and every day we had to keep enough from our dinner to make our 
supper upon." — Pennypacker's Settlement of Germantown: 82. 

Mittleberger, in 1750, says, "Warm food is served only three times a 
week, the ration being very poor and very little * * * * The water 
which is served out on the ships is often very black, thick, and full of worms, 
so that one cannot drink it without loathing, even with the greatest thirst. 
Toward the end we were compelled to eat the ship's biscuits which had been 
spoiled long ago; though in a whole biscuit there was scarcely a piece the 
size of a dollar that had not been full of red worms and spiders' nests. 
Great hunger and thirst forced us to eat everything." — Journey to Pennsyl- 
vania: 24. 

20 W. A. Whitehead, Contributions, etc., p. 27. 



The Voyage. 49 

A report on the condition of redemptioners on board an American 
vessel sailing to New York in 1805, and addressed to H. Muhlen- 
berg, president of the German Society of Philadelphia, reveals a 
wretched condition to which passengers were compelled to submit 
at the hands of a heartless captain. This vessel loaded with Ger- 
man passengers, leaving the port of Tonnigen, arrived after four- 
teen days at an English port. During her four weeks stay here an 
English recruiting officer came on board and the passengers were 
given an opportunity to enlist in the British service. Ten 
men consented to enlist, giving as their reason for so doing, 
that "they were apprehensive that should they stay on board the 
ship they should be starved before they arrived in America." It 
will be remembered that it was during this period that the question 
6f enlistment was one of the great controversies between England 
and America, and one of the alleged causes of the war of 1812. 
The treatment these passengers received after leaving England is 
related as follows : "After fourteen days had elapsed the captain 
informed them that they would get nothing to eat except bread and 
meat. After this each person received two biscuits, one pint of 
water and the eighth part of a pound of meat per day. This regu- 
lation continued for two or three weeks. * * * * The hunger 
and thirst being at this time so great, and the children continually 
crying for bread and drink, some of the men, resolved, at all 
events, to procure bread, broke open the apartment wherein it was 
kept, and took some. The whole of the passengers were punished 
for this offense. The men received no bread, and the women but 
one biscuit. This continued for nine days, when the men were 
again allowed one biscuit per day. In this situation their condition 
became dreadful, so much so that five and twenty men, women and 
children actually perished for want of the common necessaries of 
life, in short for want of bread. The hunger was so great on board 
that all the bones about the ship were hunted up by them, pounded 
with a hammer and eaten ; and what is more lamentable, some of 
the deceased persons, not many hours before their death, crawled 
on their hands and feet to the captain, and begged him, for God's 
sake, to give them a mouthful of bread or a drop of water to keep 
them from perishing, but their supplications were in vain ; he most 
obstinately refused, and thus did they perish.'' 2l 



21 Copied from the records of the German Society of Philadelphia. See 
F. Kapp, Immigration and the Commissioners of Emigration of the State of 
New York; appendix: 138. 



50 Rede?nptioners and Indentured Servants, 

With no attention paid to sanitation, fevers and other contagious 
diseases were common scourges which added greatly to the rate of 
mortality. 22 Mittleberger, writing of the conditions as they existed 
in the middle of the 18th century, says, "Children from one to seven 
years rarely survive the voyage. 23 Hunger, thirst, affliction, home- 
sickness, anxiety and neglect, added to the cruel treatment often re- 
ceived at the hands of the sailors, frequently caused the passengers 
to rise in mutiny against the officers of the vessel, and quarrels and 
riots arose among friends. 24 

Before 1708, the vessels were less crowded than during the later 
periods of immigration. Before the great German influx, the ma- 
jority of passengers came from Great Britain, and in that country 
the shipping regulations, though often avoided, were much better 
than in Holland. But even during the first period, from 1682 to 
1708, there was scarcely a vessel arrived at Pennsylvania, in which 
there were no deaths during the voyage. The voyage of William 
Penn who exercised the strictest discipline and caution, resulted in 
some deaths. Of the four hundred Palatines who sailed for New 
York in 1709, twenty per cent, died on the voyage. 23 The number 
of deaths in fifteen vessels, in 1738, are estimated at from 1600 to 
2000. 26 As late as 1818, Fearon, an English traveler in America, 
visiting a ship lying in the harbor at Philadelphia, observes, "that 
they crammed into one of those vessels, 500 passengers, eighty of 
whom died on the passage." 2T In vessels where sickness prevailed, 
mortality by no means ceased on landing, or on the vessel's arrival. 
While lying in the harbor awaiting the details and delays of the 



"Pennsylvania German Society Publications; VIII: 93-96. 
3 "Many a time parents are compelled to see their children miserably suf- 
fer and die from hunger, thirst and sickness, and then see them cast into the 
water. I witnessed such a misery in no less than thirty-two children in our 
ship all of whom were thrown into the sea. * * * * Children who have 
not yet had the measles or smallpox generally get them on board the ship, 
and mostly die of them * * * * sometimes whole families die in quick 
succession; so that often many dead persons lie in the berths beside the liv- 
ing ones, especially when contagious diseases have broken out on board the 
ship." — Journey to Pennsylvania: 23. 

24 "Children cry out against their parents, husbands against their wives, 
and wives against their husbands; brothers and sisters, friends and acquaint- 
ances, against each other." — Ibid: 22. 

25 S. H. Cobb, The Palatine Immigration to New York and Pennsyl- 
vania: 22. 

28 Pennsylvania German Society; VIII: 94. 
27 Sketches of America: 150. 



The Voyage. 51 

custom house officials, a large number perished before medical as- 
sistance could prevent the havoc of disease ; in fact such assistance 
was of little avail while the patients were confined to their filthy 
lodgings. In the summer of 1754, 253 were buried in Philadelphia, 
after having arrived at the port. 

As a result of these conditions, Philadelphia was exposed to 
constant danger from malignant and contagious fevers brought 
there by passengers from the vessels, the causes of which are given 
in a report by the Health officers to the Governor and Council in 
1754: 'The steam of bilge water and the breath of great Numbers 
of people betwixt the decks of a ship make the air moist and in some 
degree putrid, and like that of Marshy and Boggy places will pro- 
duce fevers on persons that are a long time in them, but these fevers 
are not contagious and require no> other precaution but separating 
the sick and keeping them in places well air'd and cleaned. * * 
* * But when to the state of the air any considerable degree of 
animal putrifaction is added either from uncleanness, or too great 
a confinement of the air itself, then it produces a fever, malignant in 
its nature, and contagious." 2S 

After arriving at Philadelphia passengers who were unable to 
pay for their passage were kept on board until sold. The manner 
in which passengers were disposed of on landing is so vividly told 
by Mittleberger who arrived in 1750, and whose description seems 
to correspond with the facts, that a somewhat extended extract is 
here given : "When after a long and tedious voyage, the ship 
comes in sight of land, so that the promontories can be seen, which 
the people were so eager and anxious to see, all creep from below 
on deck to see the land from afar, and they weep with joy, and pray 



28 The following account was given to the Governor by the Health Offi- 
cers: "Captain Arthur told us that in the year 1741 they took in a parcel 
of convicts from the Dublin Goal and other servants from the City; soon 
after the people on board were seized with fevers, which few escaped, so that 
they were in great distress from the number of sick during the whole voyage. 
Where these people were landed we did not inquire; but this ship after they 
were out was brought to Hamilton's Wharf and from thence carried to Thomas 
Penrose's to be repaired. Soon after her coming to the Wharf seven persons in 
the family of Anthony Morris the elder, and several in the house of Anthony 
Morris the younger, were seized with putrid bilious Fevers, and seventeen 
of Mr. Penrose's family who had been on board the ship were likewise 
affected with the same fever, and also sundry other persons in every part 
of that neighborhood where the Ballast of the Ship was thrown. This 
Fever afterwards raged through the City to the loss of many of its valuable 
inhabitants." — Penna. German Soc. VIII: 94. 



$2 Rcdemptioners and Indentwed Servants. 

and sing, thanking and praising God. The sight of the land makes 
the people on board the ship, especially the sick and the half dead, 
alive again, so that their hearts leap within them ; they shout and 
rejoice, and are content to bear their misery in patience, in the hope 
that they may soon reach the land in safety. But alas ! When the 
ships have landed at Philadelphia after their long voyage, no one 
is permitted to leave them except those who pay for their passage 
or can give good security ; the others who cannot pay, must remain 
on board the ships till they are all purchased, and are released from 
the ships by the purchasers. The sick always fare the worst, for 
the healthy are naturally preferred and purchased first ; and so the 
sick and wretched must often remain on board in front of the city 
for two or three weeks, and frequently die, whereas many a one if 
he could pay his debts and were permitted to leave the ship imme- 
diately, might recover and remain alive." The sale of passengers 
on board the ship is thus described : "Every day Englishmen, 
Dutchmen and High- German people come from the City of Phila- 
delphia and other places, in part from a great distance, say 20, 30, or 
40 miles away, and go on board the newly arrived ship that has 
brought and offers for sale passengers from Europe, and select 
among the healthy persons such as they deem suitable for their 
business, and bargain with them how long they will serve for their 
passage money, which most of them are still in debt for. When 
they have come to an agreement it happens that adult persons bind 
themselves in writing to serve 3, 4, 5 or 6 years for the amount due 
by them according to their strength. But very young people, from 
10 to 15 years, must serve till they are 21 years old. Parents must 
sell and trade away their children like so many cattle ; for if the 
children can take the debt upon themselves, the parents can leave 
the ship free and unrestrained ; but as the parents often do not 
know where or to what people their children are going, it often hap- 
pens that such parents and children, after leaving the ship, do not 
see each other again for many years, perhaps no more in all their 
lives." 29 

The above description is not overdrawn, though it represents 
the system in the time of its greatest abuse. The condition of pas- 
sengers before they were sold, and in fact the sale itself, differed 
little from that of actual slaves. In the following description which 
is given by an eye witness to the sales on board the vessel, all but 
the auction block is represented: "Die Zeitungen machen bekanut, 



29 Mittleberger, Journey to Pa. pp. 25, 26, 27. 



The Voyage. S3 

so unci so viel Deutsche sein fur ihre Fracht und Schulden zu ver- 
kaufen. Nun geht der markt auf dem Schiffe los. Wer einen 
Knecht, eine Magd braucht, geht hin und sucht sich das Passende 
aus. Die Schiffs meister suchen die Lente hoch auszubringen und 
als gesund und kraftig darzustellen, die Kaufer aber wollen sie nied- 
rig erhandlen und betasten und beurtheilen sie wie Sklaven." 30 
Before the formation of the German Society, in 1764, passengers in- 
fected with disease were as a rule not permitted to land until a cer- 
tificate from the Health officer, testifying to their fitness was ob- 
tained, or until it was evident that no purchaser could be secured. 31 
Upon the arrival of a vessel, all passengers in sound condition 
were "arranged in long columns, led to a magistrate, compelled to 
take the oath of allegiance to the English King, then marched back 
to the dreaded ship to be sold." 32 Children above ten years of age, 
could assume the debt of the parents, thus releasing the latter from 
indenture by extending their own time of service. "When people 
arrive who cannot make themselves free, but have children under 
5 years, the parents cannot free themselves by them ; for such chil- 
dren must be given to somebody without compensation to be 
brought up till they are 21 years old." 33 Those from five to ten 
years of age were compelled to serve until the age of twenty-one. 
The wife was compelled to serve for the husband in case of the 
latter's inability; and in like manner the husband was responsible 
for the debt of his wife whose term of indenture was added to his, 
thus extending the time of service to five or six years. "But if both 
are sick they are sent to the Hospital, but not until it appears prob- 
able that they will find no purchasers. After recovering they are 
compelled to serve as the rest." 34 The surviving relatives of those 
who died at sea after the vessel had made more than one-half the 



30 Hallischen Nachrichten, Quoted in Loehr's Geschichte und Zustande, 
etc.: p. 79, et seq. 

31 Health Office Oct. 5, 1815, Sir:— I do hereby certify that Captain Ben- 
jamin K. Harrison of Ship Baloon has entered Twenty-five passengers from 
Amsterdam, the whole of them in perfect hearty condition. 

JAMES PH. PUGLIA, 

Health Officer. 
And'w Leinean, Esq. 

Register of German Passengers. 
Copied from MSS. in Hist. Soc. of Penn. 

32 See Appendix. IV. 

33 Mittleberger, Journey to Pa. 27. 

34 Ibid: 28. 



54 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

journey, were held responsible for the debts of the deceased. In 
these disposals, husband, wife, and children were often sold to dif- 
ferent purchasers, until a law was passed prohibiting the separation 
of husband and wife without their consent. 

The general demand for servants in the colony gave rise to a 
class of dealers, called "soul-drivers," who found it profitable to 
retail servants among the farmers. They purchased the servants of 
the Captains in lots of fifty or more, and drove them through the 
country like so many cattle to dispose of them at whatever price 
they could. Sometimes they would go to Europe, collect a lot, and 
bring them to this country, to avoid the intervention of the mer- 
chants. In this case the indenture was made out before leaving 
Europe, and the soul-driver made an arrangement with the captain 
for transporting the entire lot. In about 1785 the soul-drivers dis- 
appear. Public sentiment was becoming strongly opposed to this 
manner of disposal, and as a result the number that ran away from 
the dealers became too large to enable them to carry on their traffic 
with profit. 35 The financial arrangements under which passengers 
were transported varied according to the transporters, and the 
financial condition of the passengers. The vast majority of those 
from Germany, after 1727, being without means, depended, as has 
been seen, upon their entire passage being paid by their purchasers 
and masters on landing. Some merchants, however, made private 
contracts with passengers, requiring them to pay one-half of the 
passage fees upon embarking, and the other half six weeks after 
landing. But when no purchaser could be found, they were sold 
by the owner or master of the vessel arbitrarily, and were compelled 
to submit entirelv to whatever terms he chose to make. 36 Under 



35 History of Delaware County (Pa.) p. 348. Phila., 1862. 

One of these soul-drivers who transacted business in Chester, was tricked 
by one of his redemptioners in the following manner: "The fellow by a 
little management, contrived to be the last of the flock that remained unsold, 
and traveled about with his owner without companions. One night they 
lodged at a tavern, and in the morning, the young fellow who was an Irish- 
man, rose early and sold his master to the landlord, pocketed the money, 
and marched off. Previously, however, to his going, he used the precaution 
to tell the purchaser, that his servant, although tolerably clever in other 
respects, was rather saucy and a little given to lying, — that he had even pre- 
sumption enough at times to endeavor to pass for master, and that he might 
possibly represent himself so to him. By the time mine host was unde- 
ceived, the son of Erin had gained such a start as rendered pursuit hope- 
less." — History of Delaware County: 348. 

38 Georgia Historical Society Collection, II: 78. Savannah, 1842. 



The Voyage. 55 

whatever conditions the passengers came, if they were unable to 
pay all the expenses incurred by them during the voyage, an 
indenture was required to insure the liquidation of the debt. Under 
such conditions the servant was unable to choose his master; his 
wishes in this regard were not consulted, and consequently, his for- 
tunate or unfortunate relation during his period of service was a 
matter of accident. 37 

Many Germans who had enough money to pay their passage, 
preferred being sold as servants with a view that during their service 
they might learn the language and the conditions of the country, 
and thus be better able to determine what to do after they had 
obtained their freedom. 38 The contract drawn up in Holland, 
between the passengers and merchants was in English, and as the 
Germans were ignorant of the language, it was an easy matter for 
the captains and merchants to disregard it on landing, while 
the reluctance to litigate, common to the Germans, as in fact, it is 
to any foreigners unacquainted with the laws of the country, was 
sufficiently great to prevent them from enforcing their rights by 
presenting their wrongs to a magistrate. Unless friends came to 
their rescue they were entirely at the mercy of the ship owners and 
transporters, and were compelled to> submit to whatever terms might 
be offered, which they often accepted at a dear price in order to 
escape the misery of the ship. 

The condition of the English and Irish servants on the journey, 
was much the same as that of the Germans. When after 1730, the 
Irish begin to arrive in large numbers, their complaints are fre- 
quent, and petitions against abuses of transportation are made in 
behalf of Irish as well as German. But it was the preponderance 
of German immigration over that of other nations into Pennsyl- 
vania that made the abuses of transportation from the continent 
especially prominent. The English speaking immigrants, to be 
sure, possessed certain natural advantages over the Germans. A 
knowledge of the language, laws, and customs prevented in a 



37 Not infrequently romantic incidents, illustrated in such works of 
fiction as "Moll Flanders," "Colonel Jack," and "Janice Meredith," at- 
tached themselves to these sales. Fearon relates the following which is also 
mentioned by Samuel Breck in his "Recollections:" "A gentleman of this 
city (Philadelphia) wanted an old couple to take care of his house; — a man, 
his wife, and daughter were offered to him for sale; — he purchased them. 
They proved to be his father, his mother, and sister!!!" — Sketches of 
America: 151. 

38 Peter Kalm, Travels, II: 304. London, 1772. 



56 Redemptio?iers and I?identured Servants. 

measure the disregard of agreements by the merchants so frequently 
practiced on the Germans. George Alsop, who served four years 
in Maryland, represents the condition of English servants on the 
voyage and in the colonies very favorably, in a pamphlet 30 pub- 
lished in 1665. He says that the passengers on the voyage have 
sufficient provisions, that "they want for nothing that is necessary 
and convenient," he denies the frequent charges made that they "are 
sold in open markets for slaves." Though the conditions of servants 
at the early period to which he refers were much more favorable 
than during the middle of the 18th century, his statements must be 
taken with reserve, and are to be regarded as the exception rather 
than the rule. Being himself a servant, his account which is much 
quoted is naturally regarded as one of the few trustworthy descrip- 
tions which give an insight into the system of indentured service 
during the middle of the 17th century. With respect to the condi- 
tion and treatment of servants, however, its trustworthiness is 
greatly impaired by the apparent fact, that it was written in the 
interest of Merchant adventurers in order to encourage emigration, 
and to counteract the influence of the numerous unfavorable reports 
of the system circulated throughout England. 

A century later, William Eddis, an English traveler in America, 
represents the condition of English servants to be entirely different 
from that described by Alsop. He regards the system as differing 
little from slavery. The manner in which redemptioners or free 
willers are disposed of on landing is described as follows : "It is 
an article of agreement with these deluded victims, that if they are 
not successful in obtaining situations, on their own terms, within a 
certain number of days after their arrival in the country, they are 
to be sold in order to defray the charges of the passage, at the dis- 
cretion of the master of the vessel, or the agent to whom he is 
consigned in the Province. * * * * Servants are rarely per- 
mitted to set foot on shore until they have absolutely formed their 
respective engagements. As soon as the ship is stationed in her 
berth, planters, mechanics, and others, repair on board ; the adven- 
turers of both sexes are exposed to view and very few are happy 
enough to make their own stipulations, * * * * and even 
when this is obtained the advantages are by no means equivalent to 
their sanguine expectations. The residue stung with disappoint- 
ment and vexation meet with horror the moment which dooms 



80 George Alsop, "A Character of the Province of Maryland" published 
in Md. Hist. Soc. Fund Publications, No. 13-18. Baltimore, 1878. 



The Voyage. J7 

them, under an appearance of equity to a limited term of slavery." 40 
A still worse condition is represented by one who visited a ship 
nearly fifty years later, loaded with redemptioners. It was a vessel 
that arrived in the harbor of Philadelphia in 1817 : "As we ascended 
the side of the hulk, a most revolting scene of want and misery 
presented itself. The eye involuntarily turned for some relief from 
the horrible picture of human suffering which this living sepulchure 

afforded. Mr. enquired if there were any shoemakers on 

board. The captain advanced : his appearance bespoke his office ; 
he was an American, tall, determined, and with an eye that flashed 
with Algerine cruelty. He called in the Dutch language for shoe- 
makers, and never, can I forget the scene which followed. The poor 
fellows came running up with unspeakable delight, no doubt antici- 
pating a lelief from their loathsome dungeon. Their clothes, if rags 
deserve that denomination, actually perfumed the air. Some were 
without shirts, others had this article of dress, but of a quality as 
coarse as the worst packing cloth. * * * * When they saw 
at our departure that we had not purchased, their countenances fell 
to that standard of stupid gloom which seemed to place them a link 
below rational beings." 41 

There was this general and important difference between the 
immigrants from the continent and those from Great Britain : The 
majority of the former came as redemptioners or free willers, that 
is to say, the indenture was issued upon landing in America. Under 
these conditions an agreement between the passengers and the mer- 
chants or masters of vessels in Holland, was all that was required. 
Consequently there was no occasion for the authorities in those ports 
to take measures other than those required for ordinary immigrants 
who paid their passage. No checks or limitations could well be put 
upon a system that had no legal basis. Hope lured the immigrant 
on to the colony, and it was not until he landed that he became fully 



40 William Eddis, Letters from America: 74-75. London, 1792. 

41 Fearon, Sketches of America: 149-50. It is interesting to note that the 
vessel which Fearon represents as being American with an "American" cap- 
tain, is claimed by Walsh to have been a British vessel. "She was British 
property and navigated on British account; her crew was British, and her 
captain an Englishman, by the name of William Garterell. On arriving at 
Philadelphia he selected as his factors, the Messrs. Odlin & Co., merchants 
of that city, whom Fearon falsely represents as the owners of the vessel." 
Whatever merit there may be in the criticism, there seems to be no doubt 
about the truthfulness of the condition of the passengers as described by 
Fearon. See Walsh, An Appeal, etc., preface: xxviii. 



58 Redemptio?iers and Indentured Servants. 

cognizant of the conditions into which he entered. It was only by 
means of courts or a system of registration that the authorities of 
Holland could determine the status of those who left their ports ; 
and, as a monopoly of the shipping was often granted to merchants, 
it is not strange that the abuses reached such enormous proportions. 
The majority of the English and the Irish, on the other hand, came 
as indentured servants, that is, the indenture was signed, and the 
relation of master and servant established before embarking. Under 
these arrangements the condition and plan of the system was con- 
stantly brought to the notice of the English authorities ; it was put 
on a legal basis in England. Courts of registration were established 
and no servants, except convicts, could legally be transported 
against their will though in practice the laws were often evaded. 



CHAPTER VI. 

LAWS AND METHODS OF REGULATING TRANSPORTA- 
TION. 

The evils arising from the methods of transporting servants and 
other passengers, were the natural results of a system which gave 
profitable employment to so many different classes. The merchants, 
the masters of vessels, the Neulanders, the "spirits" and the "soul- 
drivers," — all found it profitable to bring as many passengers as 
possible in a single vessel to the colonies. It is not at all strange 
that ships were crowded far beyond their capacity, which resulted 
at times in an enormous death rate. Against these evils frequent 
petitions were sent by the colonial assemblies to the home govern- 
ment in England, and urgent letters from influential citizens of 
Pennsylvania to the authorities in Holland. From England, where 
the system of indenture had been fully developed long before the 
colony of Pennsylvania was founded, came the first act of relief. A 
petition from the merchants in America, asking for some regular 
method of transporting servants to the plantations, was considered 
by the Council Board in 1664, and by the Council of Plantations in 
1670, and resulted in the adoption of a definite plan of transportation 
in 1682. Every servant was required to sign the indenture in the 
presence of a magistrate or other officer authorized or appointed 
for the purpose. A Clerk of the Peace was to keep a record of the 
names of the persons bound ; of the Magistrate before whom the 
indenture was executed, and of the time and place of said execution. 
No person above twenty-one years of age was to be bound unless 
the magistrate before whom he appeared was "wholly satisfied from 
him of his free and voluntary agreement to enter into the said 
service." No person between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, 
could be bound without the consent of parent or master, and "some 
person that knows the said servant to be of the name mentioned in 
the indenture." Those under fourteen years of age were required 
to have the consent of the parents, or "not to be carried on ship- 
board till a fortnight at least after he becomes bound, to the intent 
that if there be any abuse it may be discovered before he be trans- 
ported. And when his parents do not appear before the magistrates, 



do Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

notice is to be sent to them, or, where they cannot be found, to the 
church wardens or overseers of the Parish where he was last settled, 
in such manner as the magistrates shall think fit and direct." 1 

The encouragement given by the Board of Trade to the importa- 
tion of servants during the early years of the province of Pennsyl- 
vania did much to bring on the abuses which later demanded such 
stringent regulations. In 1684 an "Act to encourage the importa- 
tion of Servants'' was read and approved by that body. 2 England 
was especially desirous of providing a place for a large class of her 
population under twenty-one years of age, "lurking about in divers 
parts of London and elsewhere, who want employment, and may 
be tempted to become thieves if not provided for." It was this class 
which gave merchants the greatest trouble, and especially brought 
the system of transportation into disrepute. If, after arriving in 
America, their wildest hopes were not realized, they would complain 
that they had been treacherously persuaded to take passage to 
America ; and, as many unsuspecting persons were actually deceived 
or forced on board by the secret agents of merchants, much credence 
was given to the complaints of this idle and shiftless class. It was 
under the act of 1682, providing that no one under twenty-one years 
of age could be bound without the consent of parents or masters, 
that this class found ground for complaint, as they were without 
masters and disclaimed by their parents. Legally they could not 
be transported. An act accordingly was passed in the fourth year 
of George I, providing that 'where any person fifteen to twenty-one 
years of age shall be willing to be transported and to enter into any 
service in any of his Majesties' Colonies or plantations in America, 
it shall be lawful for any merchant to contract with any such person 
for any service not exceeding the term of eight years,' providing, 
however, that the indenture be acknowledged before the Mayor of 
London or some Justice of the Peace." 

The large number of "unhealthy vessels" landing passengers in 
the province was early brought to the notice of the colonial author- 
ities, and was the occasion of many discussions between the 
Governor and Assembly. An act in 1700 provided that "no 
unhealthy or sickly vessels coming from any sickly place whatso- 
ever shall come nearer than one mile to any of the towns or ports 



1 Board of Trade Journals — Transcripts. 1675 — 1782. IV: 79. Histori- 
cal Society of Penn. 

s Board of Trade Journals, Vol. V. 1684-86, Transcripts in Historical 
Society of Pennsylvania. 



Laws and Methods of Regulating Transportation. 61 

in this Province." 3 No passengers or goods could be landed, until 
a license from the Governor and Council, or from two Justices of 
the Peace, was granted testifying to their healthy condition. This 
act was by later legislation frequently modified and finally repealed 
in, 1 774. No provision had as yet been made for the landing or dis- 
posing of sick passengers. As the ships at this period were not yet 
so crowded as they later were, — an evil so difficult to remedy, — 
there was at this time no demand for any action along this line. 
Those who were sick during the voyage were then a small propor- 
tion of the passengers, and were usually able to land after lying in 
the harbor a few weeks. But with the increase of immigration came 
an increase of sickness and deaths. The vessels became too crowded 
to accommodate even the sick, and many deaths resulted from the 
neglect of passengers while lying in the harbor. As the citizens 
were naturally reluctant to receive even their own relatives infected 
with disease, the question occasioned much alarm and discussion. 
Repeatedly the inhabitants of the Province petitioned the Governor 
to provide some suitable place for receiving the sick, but as the 
Assembly considered it a part of their patriotic duty to> oppose 
nearly every measure recommended by the Governor, it was not 
until 1742 that the requests were acted upon. The tardiness which 
characterized the Assembly in remedial legislation along this line, 
was partly due to the fact that the majority of the passengers were 
Germans whose political influence was constantly increasing, and 
who were naturally regarded with more or less jealous apprehen- 
sions by the English Colonists. 

In 1 741 several of the most influential Germans sent a petition 
to Governor Thomas setting forth that for want of a convenient 
house for the reception of their countrymen who had contracted 
disease during the long voyage, they were obliged to continue on 
board of the ships which brought them where they could get neither 
attendance nor conveniences suitable to their condition ; that as a 
result of these conditions many had lost their lives. To remedy 
these evils they asked the Governor to recommend to the Assembly 
the erection, at the public expense, of a suitable building for the 
reception of the sick. Governor Thomas presented the matter to 
the Assembly with his recommendation, and after considerable dis- 
cussion an act was passed, in 1742, providing for the purchase of a 
site called, Province. Island. The purchase consisted of 342 acres, 



3 A Collection of the Laws of the Province of Pennsylvania, Now in 
force, p. 25. Phila., 1742. 



62 Redemptioners and Indentured Servatits. 

six of which were set apart for the erection of a Pest-house, and to 
this "all sick and infectious persons" were sent. Their nursing was 
to be paid by the master or owner of the vessel who in turn was 
paid from the effects of the passengers. 4 

As the number of immigrants increased, new abuses required 
new regulations. The early provincial laws attempted to correct 
abuses of transportation by negative legislation only ; evils were 
prohibited without substituting positive legal remedies. Such laws 
were consequently inadequate, and it was usually not long after they 
were passed that merchants found a channel of evasion by which 
they carried on the traffic in a manner not less destructive of the wel- 
fare of the province. An illustration of these conditions is afforded 
in a law passed in 1700 which prohibited the landing of passengers 
infected with contagious disease ; but since no positive provision 
was made for their disposal or care, they were landed secretly, and 
thus defeated the purpose of the law, until hospital regulations were 
provided in 1749. Laws were passed during the early period of the 
province against importing convicts and lunatics in order to protect 
the country from an improvident and shiftless class ; but these were 
likewise evaded by those engaged in the passenger traffic. When, 
upon the arrival of a vessel in the harbor, the custom house officials 
had designated what passengers might legally be landed, no offer or 
attempt at landing the unwelcome convict was made ; but no sooner 
had the provincial officers apparently completed their work, than 
the captain began to wait for opportunities by many and various 
ways to smuggle the forbidden passengers ashore. To provide 
against this illicit traffic, a law was passed in 1729 requiring all 
masters of vessels, merchants, and others, who imported passengers 
and servants, to make an entry before the Collector of Customs of 
the names of all passengers on board, and this within twenty-four 
hours after the vessel had arrived. It was required that the mayor 
of Philadelphia or any two Justices of the town or county where 
the passengers were to be landed, be notified of the arrival of every 
vessel. Importers were called before these officials and examined 
upon oath concerning the number and condition of those designed 
to be landed. Certificates were then issued to the officials of the 
vessel containing the names of those passengers who were deemed 
worthy of becoming citizens, and only such were permitted to land 



* Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania: 194, 196, 197. 
Phila., 1775. 



Laws and Methods of Regulating Transportation. 63 

under the direction of officers appointed for the purpose. 5 The same 
act placed a duty of five pounds on every convict imported. The 
real purpose of this was to exclude the importation of this class 
altogether ; in addition to> the heavy duty, one-half of which was to 
go to the informer or the collector, the masters importing them were 
required to give security to the amount of fifty pounds for their good 
behavior. This, no master could afford to do. As England had 
encouraged and expressly enjoined the importation of convicts and 
vagabonds, this law of the Assembly was practically in conflict with 
the English statutes on this subject. 

Though an act was passed in 1742 providing for the erection of 
a hospital, from a petition five years later, it appears that no suitable 
arrangements had been made for the care of the sick who continued 
to increase with the increase of immigration ; for in the spring of 
1749 a petition from the inhabitants of Philadelphia was presented 
to the House setting forth the practice of the merchants concerned 
in the importation of Germans and other foreigners into the prov- 
ince ; they complained that vessels were crowded beyond their 
capacity ; that disease had been produced among the passengers, 
which resulted in the loss of hundreds in a single vessel ; that the 
surviving relatives had been obliged by their own labor to defray 
the passage money of the dead ; that besides the injury done to the 
Germans by this iniquitous and infamous practice, the inhabitants 
had become greatly endangered by the importation of mortal dis- 
tempers ; that for want of suitable buildings and other conveniences, 
the sick had been induced to wander from one place to another, 
without care, and to the manifest danger of the inhabitants. They 
asked that the House make provision for the prevention of such 
practices, for the relief of those strangers, and for the safety of the 
inhabitants. 6 

This petition resulted in a more complete regulation of the pas- 
senger traffic. "An Act for Prohibiting the Importation of too 
Many Germans in one vessel" was immediately passed. It provided 
that no Master of any ship bound to Philadelphia or elsewhere in 
the Province should import any greater number of passengers in 
any one vessel than could be suitably provided for ; every passenger 
of the age of fourteen years or upwards was to have a berth at least 
six feet in length, and one foot six inches in breadth ; and if under 



5 Charters and Acts of Assembly of the Province of Pa.: 122. Phila., 
1762. 

6 Colonial Records, V: 427. 

5 



64 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

fourteen years of age, to contain the same length and breadth for 
every two such passengers. For every violation of this act, the 
Master or Commander, was to pay a penalty of ten pounds. The 
officers appointed for collecting duties, were required in going on 
board newly arrived vessels to inform themselves of the condition 
of passengers, and to report any neglect to the Mayor or Alderman 
of Philadelphia. It seems to have been the custom, or at least a 
frequent practice, of the masters of vessels to confiscate the property 
of the deceased in payment of their passage after the ships had 
arrived in the harbor. To prevent this an inventory of the deceased 
was demanded from every master or captain, which was to be pre- 
sented to the Register-General or to some of his deputies of the 
county in which the vessel arrived ; after the payment of all dues 
to the master of the vessel, the property was restored to the relatives 
or creditors of the deceased. Neglect to furnish a true inventory 
was punishable by a fine of 100 pounds. 7 

But however rigorous the attempts to remedy the evils, legisla- 
tion up to 1765 was by no means adequate to control the passenger 
traffic, or to correct the abuses which necessarily caused many to 
be unjustly bound to service. It was not long after an act had been 
passed, that masters of vessels found a way of violating the spirit 
if not the letter of the law. In the act of 1749, for example, which 
was primarily intended to prevent the importation of passengers in 
too great numbers in a single vessel by specifying the space that 
each passenger should have, no provision was made for the height 
of each berth. Vessels were still crowded as much as before that 
act was passed. To comply with the two dimensions specified by 
law, the berths were so constructed as to reduce the former height, 
thus giving no increase in the number of cubic feet per capita. On 
the whole the conditions through the middle of the century were 
bad. The increase of immigration brought with it an increase of 
disorder. The sick were neglected; contracts made in Europe 
between importers and passengers were disregarded ; immigrants 
were sold into service to pay the fare of friends or relatives who had 
died on the journey ; husband, wife and children were still separated 
by being sold to different masters ; passengers were robbed of their 
baggage on landing, and held and treated as prisoners until sold. 

These abuses brought into existence an organization which 
exerted a potent influence in ameliorating the condition of the immi- 
grant. In 1764 a number of influential Germans of Philadelphia 



7 Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pa., pp. 223, 224. Phila., 1775. 



Laws and Methods of Regulating Transportation. 65 

organized the "German Society of Pennsylvania." Its object was 
to assist their countrymen in establishing themselves in the colony, 
and especially to correct the abuses of transportation. A constitu- 
tion was drafted providing for regular meetings and a systematic 
mode of action. In their first meeting it was voted to send an 
English copy of their constitution to the Governor, asking his sup- 
port in their efforts. An address was also sent to the Assembly 
requesting better laws regarding the transportation of Germans. 
Their address to the Governor states that the Germans gratefully 
recognize the hospitality shown them by the English ; that duty 
directed them to mitigate the sufferings of their countrymen ; that 
the Germans were strong enough in the Province to take care of 
themselves, and only asked a helping hand in cases where cruel 
injustice to immigrants could thus be avoided. Their petition to the 
Assembly contained a project for protecting and regulating the pas- 
senger traffic. This was January 1, 1765. Ten days later the matter 
was considered by the Assembly and a bill was passed embodying 
the requests of the Society and presented to the Governor for his 
signature. However, as the matter was presented to the Governor 
at the end of the session he deferred signing it and requested it to 
be put over to the next session for further deliberation. 

The project presented to the Assembly by the German Society 
is not only important as showing the work of this organization and 
its relation to legislation in behalf of German immigrants, but it also 
gives an idea of the abuses still existing in regard to immigration 
in 1765. In this petition they ask: that the custom officers 
appointed by the government should be accompanied by a German 
interpreter who should go on board every vessel and explain to the 
German passengers such portions of the acts of the Assembly as 
pertain to the landing of passengers ; that masters of vessels give a 
receipt to each passenger for his baggage on embarking ; that the 
contract made between masters of vessels and immigrants in Europe 
be strictly carried out ; that passengers who had paid their full fare 
immediately receive their goods on landing ; that no one be bound 
for the freight of relatives who died on the voyage ; that no one be 
bound for another, except a man for his wife and children ; that pas- 
sengers owing for their freight should not be treated and held as 
prisoners for an indefinite length of time ; that the sick be better 
cared for ; that no warrants of arrest be issued for the payment of 
freight, unless one-half be not paid within twelve months after land- 
ing, or in case the debtor attempted to leave the province ; that all 



66 Rede7tiptioners and Indentured Servants. 

contracts made between captain and passenger on the voyage for 
the payment of freight be null and void ; that the indenture only 
apply to the province of Pennsylvania ; that no one be sold out of 
the province ; and finally, that man and wife be not separated by 
the sale. 

The German Society exerted a considerable influence on legisla- 
tion in later years. They recommended to the Assembly many 
officers who were in a large measure to control the affairs of German 
immigrants. The petition sent to the Assembly by this Society, 
January ist, and considered by them on the nth, was again brought 
up in that body May 18th, was signed by the Governor and became 
a law. It provided among other things that the room allotted to 
each passenger by the previous act should also be at least 3 feet 9 
inches in height, in the fore part of the ship, between decks, and at 
least two feet nine inches in the cabin and steerage. It further pro- 
vided that each vessel should have an able surgeon for the use of 
passengers at the charge of the owner ; that twice every week during 
the voyage the vessel should be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected. 
Provisions were to be sold at a profit not exceeding 50 per cent, on 
the first cost. Officers on visiting the ships were now required to 
take with them a reputable German inhabitant of Philadelphia 
versed in the English and German languages who was to act as 
interpreter He was to go aboard every vessel, call the passengers 
together and in a "loud and audible voice declare and proclaim" in 
the German language, the rights granted to passengers, by reading 
such passages of the law as pertains to their language. 8 To pre- 
vent the loss and confiscation of property, masters were required to 
give each passenger, sailing from any port of Europe, a bill of lading 
for all baggage not needed during the voyage, and this was to be 
carried in the same vessel occupied by the passenger to whom it 
belonged. 

It has already been stated that the majority of vessels coming 
from the continent to America, were delayed at Great Britain, often 
several weeks, that the goods of passengers were there overhauled 
and duties collected thereon. This not only put the passengers to 
great inconveniences, causing a needless and expensive delay, but 
as many of the Germans were ignorant of the property subject to 
duties, their goods were often confiscated by the English custom 
house officials. To remedy this, masters of vessels were required to 



Act of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania: 314. Phila., 1775. 



Laws and Methods of Regulating Transportation. 67 

pay all duties for the passengers, the amount of which was added to 
the regular fare. 

An attempt to enforce the contract made between passengers 
and transporters in Europe, which had been so often disregarded, 
was also made at that time. It was now provided that 'every pas- 
senger who on landing paid the passage money contracted in 
Europe, shall be immediately discharged, and all his goods delivered 
on shore without further cost.' The same act provided that those 
not paying their freight at the port from which they sailed, were 
obliged to pledge their goods as lawful security for the payment of 
their passage. In case the goods were not of sufficient value to 
cover the fare, passengers were required to bind themselves as 
servants. No master of a vessel could collect the freight of a pas- 
senger who had died during the voyage, from his relatives ; and no 
passenger could be compelled, against his will, to pay or make good 
by service all or any part of the freight of his relatives, except a man 
for his wife and children either dying during the voyage or actually 
transported. Children, whose father or mother did not survive the 
journey, might be held responsible for the freight of the parents by 
being compelled to serve until twenty-one years of age ; and if they 
were of so advanced an age that the period of service, under these 
conditions, was not equal to the amount of the debt, the time of 
indenture could be extended, but not beyond the age of twenty-four 
years. Passengers unable to pay their freight might be kept on 
board thirty days after the vessel had arrived, but at the expense of 
the master or importer; the object of this was to give all passengers 
ample time to find relatives or friends who might wish to redeem 
them, or, to find suitable purchasers among strangers to whom they 
offered to bind themselves in return for the payment of their pas- 
sage. If at the end of thirty days, passengers failed to find friends 
or purchasers to assume their debt, the expense of provisions was 
added to their fare. 

Every indenture whereby passengers were bound was to be 
acknowledged before the Mayor or Recorder of Philadelphia, whose 
duty it was to keep an exact record, specifying "the Province, 
county, city, borough or township" where the master resided ; "and 
the Mayor and Recorder and every Justice of the Peace in the 
several counties of this province in whose presence any assignment 
on such indenture may be made, shall in like manner keep a record 
of the place of the assignees abode." 9 No master or owner of any 



Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pa., p. 316. Phila., 1775. 



68 Redemptianers and Indentured Servants. 

vessel could separate husband and wife, who came as passengers, 
by disposing - them to different masters, except by mutual con- 
sent." 10 

The regulation of the passenger traffic was a gradual process 
which by no means approached perfection during the first century 
of the province of Pennsylvania. The successive acts of the Assem- 
bly were aimed against new abuses which crept into the system as 
immigration increased. The law of 1765 was the most elaborate and 
complete that had been passed up to that time, and formed the basis 
of all legislation relating to the control of the traffic during the later 
history of Pennsylvania, even after it became a state. Another act 
was passed in 1774 "to prevent infectious diseases being brought 
into the province ;" it containing, however, nothing which had not 
been covered by previous acts, but imposing heavier penalties for 
the neglect of those sections which had in previous laws been vio- 
lated. 11 From this act it appears that the sick on board the ships 
had frequently been concealed from the health officers, for which 
offence a penalty of 100 pounds was imposed for every one con- 
cealed. 

The Revolution wrought few changes in the laws governing the 
transportation or conduct of servants. Those passed by the General 
Assembly of the Commonwealth were based as a rule on the Pro- 
vincial Acts. A law of 1785, however, shows that the municipal 
government of Philadelphia where the majority of servants landed, 
had slightly changed, involving a change of functions in certain 
offices. Certain duties relating to servants formerly performed by 
the Mayor and Recorder now devolved upon the Justices of the 
Peace collectively or upon any three of them ; such for example, as 
the registration of passengers. No provision had thus far been made 
for registering the names and acknowledging the indentures of 
German passengers separately. A new officer was now created, 
called the Register of German Passengers. He was to be appointed 
from time to time by the President in council, and placed under 
oath by the Chief Justice of the United States ; his duties were to 
register all German passengers arriving in the city of Philadelphia 
and to execute all indentures ; he must be an inhabitant of Phila- 
delphia, speak the German and English languages with ease and 
propriety ; by virtue of his office he could exercise all the power and 
authority of a Justice of the Peace so far as that power pertained to 



10 Ibid. This act was passed May 18, 1765. 

11 Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, 5°5-50/. Phila., 
1/75- 



Laws and Methods of Regulating Transportation. 6<? 

regulating and judging of the law respecting German passengers. 
The Health officer, having received from the Captain of any vessel 
importing German passengers ,the list of their names, was required 
f o review them and report to the Register who, if he approved of 
their landing, sent the original list to the secretary of the Supreme 
Executive Council giving orders to land all passengers that were 
"sound and without defect in mind or body." All indentures and all 
assignments of Germans within Philadelphia were now to be 
acknowledged before the Register who made an entry of the trans- 
action, and performed the work that had formerly been done by the 
Mayor or Recorder. 12 These entries are preserved in two manu- 
script volumes covering the period from 1786 to 1831, and are the 
most important source of information on the system of indentured 
service. 

The last law relating to passengers was enacted by the Senate 
and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsyl- 
vania in 1818. This act still recognizes the system of indentured 
service. Every passenger who offers to the master, captain, owner 
or consignee of the ship "the full sum for which he or she agreed in 
Europe, either in the coin or specie mentioned in the contract, or 
in lawful money of the United States equivalent thereto, and the fee 
of one dollar (provided by health law) * * * * shall be 
immediately discharged from such vessel and have all his or her 
goods delivered to them. * * * * But it shall be lawful for 
the master, importing passengers * * * * to keep and detain 
any such passengers who are unable to pay their freight * * * 
* for the space of thirty days next after their arrival * * * * in 
order that they may discharge their .freight, or to agree with some 
person who shall be willing to pay the same in consideration of their 
servitude for a term of years." 1S No master or captain could make 
any contract with the passengers, compelling them to pay for the 
freight of another, unless they were both willing to enter into joint 
obligation. In case any action was brought by the redemptioners 
or other passengers against the importers, arising from the freight 
or passage, a speedy trial was guaranteed. Judges of the courts of 
the Commonwealth were, upon application by plaintiff, compelled 
to grant special courts and immediately decide causes. 14 



12 Laws of the Commonwealth of Pa. II: 326-7. Phila., 1797- 

13 Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pa. p. 66. 
Harrisburg, 1818. 

14 Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pa. p 66. Har- 
risburg, 1818. 



JO Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

By the beginning of the present century the laws regulating 
transportation fairly accomplished the purpose of their creation. It 
must not, however, be assumed that they completely corrected the 
evils against which they were directed at any time during the period 
of indentured service. So long as the laws permitted the importer 
to hold servants for debts contracted on the voyage, every possible 
obstacle was thrown in the way of freedom. The profits arising 
from servants being much greater than those arising from the free- 
men, self interest directed the merchants to perpetuate the institution 
as long as possible, and not until a law was passed preventing 
imprisonment for debt did the merchants and importers lose their 
grip on this most lucrative traffic. 



CHAPTER VII. 



THE INDENTURE. 

The relation of master and servant was founded on, or arising 
out of, the voluntary contract of two parties. This contract which 
was called an "indenture" specified the reciprocal rights and obliga- 
tions of the master and servant. While the detailed specifications 
were not uniform in all contracts, the legal relations were essentially 
the same throughout the history of Pennsylvania both as a province 
and a state while the institution of indentured service was in opera- 
tion. 

In the ordinary indenture one party in consideration of a sum 
of money, which in the case of immigrants was paid for their pas- 
sage to America, promises to bind himself for a definite period, as 
a servant to the debtor, who becomes master upon the signing of 
the contract. During the period specified in the indenture the 
servant promises to serve his master "honestly and obediently in all 
things as a good and faithful servant ought to do." The master on 
the other hand is under obligations to provide for the servant during 
the time of indenture, food, clothing, and lodging, and, at the expira- 
tion of the term, "freedom dues," which varied in different contracts 
but in nearly every case included among other things, "two complete 
suits of clothes," one of which was to be new. 1 

It must not be assumed that the money paid for the passage 
formed the only consideration for which servants were bound by 
indenture. It is true that the majority of servants came from that 
class of immigrants who were unable or unwilling to pay their pas- 
sages ; but many indentures were issued to those residing in the 
province, in which the consideration was an item of the future, either 
a sum of money or its equivalent. In an indenture dated May 19th, 
1824, "Susanna Herbster of her own free will, and consent of her 
father," binds herself servant to Christian Schenck, for six years in 
consideration of "sufficient Drink, Apparel, Washing and lodging," 
including "six months' schooling ;" in addition to this, certain privi- 
leges are specified in the indenture ; the master within the first three 
years of the term of service is "to have her confirmed at the German 



1 See Appendix. I-II. 



7-2 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, and attend the Lectures of the 
minister agreeable to the form of said Church." At the expiration 
of her term of service she is to receive, "two complete suits of 
clothes, also a good bed, Bolster, Pillows and Blankets worth at 
least twenty-five Dollars." 2 

The "freedom dues" to which every servant was entitled, were 
provided for by law in case they were not mentioned in the in- 
denture. Those servants who came with the first settlers of Penn- 
sylvania received 50 acres of land, and usually a "years provision of 
Corn." 3 In New Jersey the "Grants and Concessions" of 1682 pro- 
vided that if the freedom dues were not stipulated in the indenture 
each servant was to receive at the expiration of his term, "Ten 
bushels of corn, necessary apparel, two horses and one Axe." In 
1700 an act of the Assembly of Pennsylvani? provided that "every 
servant that shall faithfully serve, four years or more, shall at the 
expiration of their servitude, have a discharge, and shall be duly 
clothed with two Compleat Suits of Apparel, whereof one shall be 
new, and shall also be furnished with one Axe, one Grubbing hoe, 
and one Weeding-hoe, at the charge of their master or mis- 
tress." 4 A modification of this act, in which that portion relating to 
the implements was repealed, was made in 1771. After this the "cus- 
tomary freedom dues" were two complete suits of clothes, though 
frequently other articles were added depending entirely on the 
agreement of the contracting p?: es. After the revolution a money 
payment was often added to the regular dues, and sometimes substi- 
tuted entirely for them. 5 



2 Ibid. 

3 In 1693 a servant complained that he had been turned off "without 
clothes fitting for a servant to have." The Court ordered his master to 
"pay him a hat, coat, waistcoat, breeches, drawers, stockings, and shoes, all 
new, and also ten bushels of wheat or fourteen bushels of corn, two hoes 
and One Axe." Such complaints were common and were called claims "for 
the Custom of the County." Hist, of Delaware Co. p. 186. Phila., 1862. 

4 Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, p. 7. Phila., 

i/75- 

In Maryland a law of 1715 provided the following freedom dues: "Every 
man servant shall have at the Expiration of servitude, 1 new Hat, 1 good 
suit, (coat and breeches) either Kersey or broad-cloth, 1 new shirt of white 
linen, 1 pair of French Fall Shoes, and stockings, 2 houghs (hoes) and 1 
Axe, 1 gun, value 20s. Women Servants: Waste Coat and Petty coat of 
new half thick or penistone, a new shift of white linen (Two suits), Shoes 
and Stockings, a blue apron, Two caps of white linen, and 3 barrels of In- 
dian corn." — A Complete Collection of the Laws of Md. 1692-1725, Annap- 
olis, 1727. 

6 See Appendix. III. 



The Indenture. 73 

The original act providing' for the freedom dues gave no express 
authority to the courts for the delivery and payment of the same. 
As a result many were discharged at the end of their service without 
receiving them, and as the action for recovery was attended with 
much expense and trouble the majority thus wronged were discour- 
aged from prosecuting their suits and thus deprived of their just 
dues. To remedy this an act was passed in 1771, establishing an 
easy method for servants to secure their rights ; a justice of any 
county within the province on complaint made by a servant, could 
summon the master before him and order him to pay the "just dues 
to the servant according to law and Indenture." 6 

The time of service in Pennsylvania varied more than in any 
other colony ; on an average, however, the terms were shorter than 
in other colonies. In New Jersey the early laws fixed the term of 
all servants above the age of twenty-one, at four years, the term to 
begin "from the time the ship shall be entered in the said Province." 
In Maryland an act of 1671 fixes the time of all servants above 22 
years of age at five years ; if between eighteen and twenty-two, six 
years ; all those between fifteen and eighteen were required to serve 
until twenty-two years of age. 7 Seven years of service was frequent 
in Massachusetts, and in Rhode Island ten years were sometimes 
required of adults. The early laws of Pennsylvania required of 
those without indenture a term of four years ; but in the majority 
of cases the time was specified in t£e indenture and was more often 
below four years than above. The time depended upon the age, 
strength, and health of those sold. Children above five years of age 
usually had to serve until they had attained the age of twenty-one ; 
those under five, could not be sold and were usually disposed of 
gratuitously to persons who kept them until at twenty-one years 
of age, they were set at liberty. As children were often required to 
assume the passage dues of parents their time of service was some- 
times extended beyond the age of twenty-one. 8 

One of the duties of the county court was to determine the age 
of children and the time they were to serve. This was called 
"Judging" them. A record of the court of Delaware County, in the 
October session of 1693, makes mention of "the eight boys that 



6 Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pa. p. 392. Phila., 1775. 

71 Md. Archives and Acts of the Assembly 1666-76. p. 335. Baltimore, 
1884. 

8 The time of service of immigrants is given in detail in a preceding 
Chapter on "The Voyage." 



7^ Redanptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Morris Trent brought into the country, who were called up to be 
judged." They were ordered to serve their respective masters until 
they arrived at the age of twenty-one. 9 Seven years later in the Ches- 
ter County Court, "Francis Chadsey brought a boy who was ad- 
judged to serve eight years, to be taught to read and write, or else 
to serve but seven years." The same master "also had a servant 
maid who was adjudged to serve five years." 10 During the same 
session "a servant girl who was adjudged to be eleven years of age" 
was ordered to serve "Thomas Withers or his assigns ten years." ll 
Frequently whole families bound themselves to the same master. 
A single example of the many entries from the Registry of Redemp- 
tioners will serve as an illustration: "Conrad Rihl and Wife, Cath- 
arina Elizabeth, as also their son by their Consent, named George 
Herman, bound themselves to Andrew Porter of Montgomery 
County near Norris Town, the Parents Three years each, to have 
customary freedom suits each ; their son George Herman, to serve 
Twelve years, to have customary freedom suits, to learn to read, 
write and cypher ; their child Catharina Elizabeth to be free when 
the parents are free." 12 

A servant binding himself by indenture could by virtue of the 
contract, be sold to another master in the Province. In a transfer 
of this kind, the terms of the indenture had to be carried out by the 
new purchaser. An act of 1729 provides for the method by which 
sales were to be made in the city of Philadelphia, which will serve 
as an example for the whole Province. "All assignments or sales 
of servants shall be made before the Mayor, or in case of his absence 
before the Recorder." These officers were to keep a record of the 
names of the servants, "by whom and to whom assigned, and the 
term of years mentioned in the indenture." After the creation of 
the office of Registry of German Passengers in 1785, the assignment 
of all German passengers, was executed before the Register, while 
that of other immigrants was executed by the Justice of the Peace, 
the offices of Mayor and Recorder having changed in names and 
functions. 13 

The record of the Upland County Court from 1676 to 1681 be- 



9 History of Delaware County. 

10 Quoted in Hist, of Chester Co.: 430. Phila., 1881. 

11 Ibid, p. 431. 

12 MSS., Registry of Redemptioners, in Hist. Soc. of Penn. Dated March 

30. 1795- 

13 Acts of Assembly of the Province of Pa. p. 162. Phila., 1775. 



The Indenture. 75 

fore the organization of Pennsylvania into a Proprietary Govern- 
ment, shows that a regular method of assignment had at that time 
already been established, and that the practice of selling the time of 
servants was not uncommon at this early date. An entry dated 
March 12, 1678, reads: "Anthony Long brought in Court a cer- 
tayne man servant named William Goaf whome hee has bought of 
Moens Peterson for the full term of Three years servitude. The 
s'd Wm. Goaf being present in court did owne the same, and did 
faithfully promise to serve his master honestly and truly ye above 
s'd Term of Three years." 14 Such sales were more frequent in the 
latter part of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth 
century. In 1792 Anna Ballman bound herself for three and a half 
years ; within the first year of her indenture she had served five dif- 
ferent masters. 15 

In the newspapers of the time frequent advertisements are found 
like the following from the Pennsylvania Packet, dated October 
25th, 1773: "A strong hearty woman servant, who has about two 
years and a half to serve, very suitable for the Country." 16 The 
fact that servants sometimes voluntarily bound themselves a second 
time, after the first indenture had expired, indicates that their con- 
dition under indenture, was, during the latter part of the 18th cen- 
tury rather mild. The practice of servants binding themselves a 
second term was not uncommon in Pennsylvania. An example of 
this is found in John Hesselbach and his wife who bind themselves 
in 1784 to a Philadelphia merchant. Four years later they again 
voluntarily bind themselves to an iron master of Chester County for 
four years. 17 That their condition at this time differed little from 
the "hired servant" who was under no contract, is also shown from 
the fact that frequently the indenture mentions in addition to "free- 
dom dues," a definite sum of money, which omitted would shorten 
the time of service. 

It thus appears that the system is gradually changing from one 
of forced service on account of debt, to a free and natural method of 
employment. The long term service, as opposed to hire by the 
year, had its advantages to employers and employed. An indenture 



14 Record of Upland Court in Penn. 1676-81, p. 89. Phila., i860. 

15 Registry of Redemptioners. MSS. 

16 On the same page is the following: "To be sold: The time of an 
Irish Servant woman, who has three and a half years to serve, fit for either 
town or country. Enquire of the Printer." 

" Registry of Redemptioners. MSS. Dec. 15, 1784, and Sept. 10, 1788. 



yd Redemptioners and Iiidefitured Servants. 

of four years relieved the servant of all responsibility to provide for 
himself during- that period, and whatever misfortune might beset 
him, during that time he was sure of the stipulations mentioned in 
the contract, if he performed the ordinary duties devolved upon him 
as a servant. To foreigners to be assured of the necessaries of life 
for a definite number of years, in a country with whose laws and 
customs they were unfamiliar, must have been a relief from much 
anxiety. During this period they become acquainted with the man- 
ners and customs of the country, and when their time of service 
had expired, they were fitted for duties of everyday life. The mas- 
ters, on the other hand, were likewise benefitted by the long term 
of employment, for since the development of natural resources in the 
absence of modern machinery was almost entirely dependent upon 
manual labor, and since there was almost always an under supply 
of labor steady service could hardly have been secured without long 
contracts. There was also by the system of indenture a political ad- 
vantage shared by the Province and Commonwealth of no small 
consequence: viz., the temporary disfranchisement of the servants, 
who constituted, as has been shown, a large part of the foreign 
population, gave ample opportunity to prepare them for citizen- 
ship. 18 



18 J. C. Ballagh, White Servitude in the Colony of Va. Johns Hopkins 
University Studies. Vol. XIII: p. 90, note. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



THE "RUNAWAYS." 

The "Great Law" passed at Chester in 1682 provides "that no 
master or mistress or freeman of the Province or the Territories 
thereunto belonging, shall presume to sell or dispose of any servant 
into any other Province." This law was abrogated in 1693, under 
William and Mary, but it was the basis of similar laws which were 
later passed, and contains essentially the regulations in operation 
through the greater part of the Colonial period. The demand for 
laborers and the desire to retain them was no doubt the controlling 
reason in Penn's mind for enacting laws to prevent servants leaving 
the Province. The attempt to keep all the servants within the 
Province was indeed a large undertaking, too great to be successful. 
That this act was frequently violated is shown by the numerous pe- 
titions from masters of servants, and from the various county courts, 
to the provincial council. One from the court of Philadelphia was 
sent to that body in 1685, stating that several servants were brought 
from England to "serve in this province, and that the masters of 
the vessels intended to carry them to Virginia," contrary to the laws 
of the province. 1 Further provisions were made against servants' 
leaving the province by a law of the Assembly in 1700. It is evi- 
dent from this act, and from the frequent complaints found in con- 
temporary documents, that the settlers in other provinces often gave 
encouragement to servants to leave their original masters by offer- 
ing easier conditions, such for example as a shorter term of service 
than the original indenture called for; many escaped to other 
provinces to avoid justice ; sometimes masters sold servants into 
another province against their will. 

The rendition of fugitives from one colony to another was a fre- 
quent source of annoyance to the colonial governments. As early 
as 1643, e - §•> ^e council of Maryland sent a letter to the Governor 
of New Netherlands asking the return of servants who had escaped 
from Maryland. 2 In the absence of inter-colonial regulations, pro- 
viding for the return of fugitives, an act was passed in 1700, to pre- 



1 Colonial Records I: 161. 

2 Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1636-47: p. 134. Baltimore, 
1885. 



j8 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

vent and discourage servants' leaving the province of Pennsylvania, 
providing "that no servant bound to serve in this province, or Coun- 
ties annexed, shall be sold or disposed of to any person residing in 
any other Province or government, without the consent of the ser- 
vant, and two Justices of the Peace of the county wherein he lives 
or is sold, under the penalty of 10 pounds to be forfeited by the 
seller." 3 

In order to discourage piracies and robberies an act was passed 
in the same year which affected runaway servants, — in fact every one 
leaving the province: "All unknown persons coming to lodge or 
sojourn in an inn, or ask for work * * * * in any kind of a 
house, and cannot give a good account of themselves and their for- 
mer and present way of living, and have not a pass under hand and 
seal of at least one Justice of the Peace, stating whence they came 
from and their destination * * * * shall be taken up as a sus- 
pect criminal." 4 Five years later this law was abrogated, but sim- 
ilar regulations existed throughout the colonial period. 5 

A further precaution was early taken to prevent fugitive ser- 
vants from leaving the province by an act requiring every person 
intending to leave, to publish his intention in writing and affix it to 
the door of the County Court, thirty days before departing. Mas- 
ters of vessels who attempted to take any one out of the province 
without leave, were to pay all damage incurred by such transgres- 
sion, and every master importing servants was to give a bond of 300 
pounds to the naval officers to observe the laws, twenty pounds to 
be forfeited for every violation. 6 



8 Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pa.: 7, Phila., 1775. 

4 Statutes at Large of Pa. II: 102, 1896. 

5 As early as 1672 in Upland County the following regulations existed: 
"Whereas frequent complaints have been made of servants who run away 
from their masters in other governments, for want of due care and examina- 
tion of them by the magistrates or officers of the towns through which they 
pass, It is ordered that if hereafter any stranger or person unknown shall 
come to, or travaill through any town or place within this government with- 
out a passport or certificate from whence he came and whither he is bound, 
shall be liable to be seized upon by any officers of the town or place into 
which he comes, or through which he shall travel, there to be secured until 
he can clear himselfe to bee a freeman, and shall defray the charges of his 
detention there, by his work or labor (if not otherwise able to give satisfac- 
tion) in the best way and manner he shall bee found capable." — Dukes' 
Laws. Coll. N. Y. Hist. Soc. I: 421. 

6 Passed Nov. 27, 1700.— Statutes at Large of Pa. II: 84. 1S96. The pro- 
totype of this act is found in Penn's "Concessions to the Province of Pa.," 



The "Runaways." yp 

In consequence of these laws which existed in nearly all of the 
colonies travellers without passes were in constant anxiety of being 
apprehended as runaways. In 1723, Franklin in his Autobiogra- 
phy, speaking of his journey from New York to Philadelphia says, 
"I stopped at a poor inn where I stayed all night * * * * I 
made so miserable a figure, too, that I found, by the questions asked 
me, I was suspected to be some runaway indentured servant, and 
in danger of being taken up on that suspicion." Again after arriv- 
ing at Philadelphia and being directed to a "house where they re- 
ceive strangers" he writes, "while I was eating, several questions 
were asked me as, from my youth and appearance, I was suspected 
of being a runaway." 7 

The question of runaway servants seemed to have been one of 
the most difficult with which the authorities and masters had to deal. 
The Pennsylvania newspapers of the time devoted no small amount 
of space to notices of runaways. It is difficult to find a single issue 
of the Packet or Gazette during the period in which the system was 
in full force, that does not contain several notices, and sometimes 
over a column is devoted to these advertisements. "Runaway from 
his Master," "Forty Shillings Reward," "Twenty Hard Dollars 
Reward," "A Half Johannes Reward," are some of the various cap- 
tions that stand out in boldface type to attract the notice of the 
reader. Rough wood cuts were sometimes inserted beside the 
notice to make it more conspicuous, the fugitive being usually rep- 
resented in colonial costume with a cane and bundle over his 
shoulder taking rapid strides across the country. These notices 
throw a great deal of light on the internal history of indentured ser- 
vice. They give a complete description of the servant, his charac- 
ter, nationality, age, the clothing and often the time of service. As 
the reurn of the servant depended largely upon the accuracy of the 
description, it is an invaluable source from which a perfect picture 
of the dress, manner, and character, of at least a part of the servant 
class, may be derived. A single example from the Pennsylvania 



1681, section XX: "That no person leave the province without publication 
being made thereof in the market place, three weeks before, and a certificate 
from some Justice of the Peace of his clearness with his neighbors and those 
he dealt with, so far as such assurance can be given, and if any master of a 
ship shall, contrary hereunto, receive and carry away any person, that hath 
not given that public notice, the said master shall be liable to all debts owing 
by said person, so secretly transported from the province." — Charters and 
Constitutions of the U. S. 
7 Autobiography Chap. II. 

6 



80 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Gazette of May 9, 1751, may here serve as a characteristic illustra- 
tion : "Run away from Thomas James, of Upper Merion, Phila- 
delphia County, on the 5th of this inst, an Irish servant lad named 
William Dobbin, about 18 years of age, speaks good English, fresh 
colour'd, thick and well set in his body, has light colored curled hair, 
some what resembling a wig; Had on when he went away, an old 
felt hat, ozenbrigs shirt, an old dark brown colour'd coat, too big 
for him, and breeches of the same, grey worsted stockings, and a 
pair of old shoes, with brass buckles, one of the buckles broke. 
Whoever takes up and seizes this servant so that his master may 
have him again, shall have 20 shillings reward, and reasonable 
charges, paid by Thomas Jones." To this is added the following 
postscript: "He often changes his clothes and sometimes gets 
them without money." s On at least one occasion a runaway was 
the inspiration of a poetic attempt as the following from the Mary- 
land Gazette under the heading of "Forty Shillings Reward" will 

show : 

"Last Wednesday noon at break of day, 
From Philadelphia ran away 
An Irishman named John McKeohn, 
To fraud and imposition prone; 
About five feet, five inches high. 
Can curse and swear as well as lie; 
How old he is I can't engage 
But fourty-five is near his age. 
He came (as all reports agree) 
From Belfast town in sixty-three." 

In the same strain the features, speech and dress are described and 
then continues, 

"He oft in conversation chatters 
Of scripture and religious matters, 
And fain would to the world impart 
That virtue lodges in his heart; 
But take the rogue from stem to stern, 
The hypocrite you'll soon discern — 
And find (tho' his deportment's civil) 
A saint without, within a devil. 
Whoe'er secures said John McKeohn, 
(Provided I can get my own), 
Shall have from me, in cash paid down, 
Five dollar bills, and half a crown," B 



A number of these notices are given in Appendix V. 

Md. Gazette, Mch. 16, 1769. Quoted in Scharf's Hist, of Md. II: I7n. 



The " -Runaways." 8r 

In spite of the severe laws and precautionary measures, such as 
requiring all travelers to have passes, fugitive servants seemed to 
have been very successful in eluding detection. Frequently they 
secured passes, issued to another person whose name they assumed, 
to prevent being caught. 10 Sometimes they escaped from on board 
the ship before being sold. Under these conditions, as no record 
could be made of their arrival and they could easily find friends who 
would shield them in return for services on easy conditions, it was 
comparatively easy to avoid detection. Many schemes were prac- 
ticed by fugitives to evade the laws. In a notice of a runaway dated 
March 17, 1752, a servant under his second indenture "is supposed 
to have his old indenture with him" which seems to have been 
equivalent to a pass. Another of the preceding year "had a pass 
from his master to go to Philadelphia on the 19th instant to return 
the 26th, which it is supposed he altered." 

The great majority of runaways were Irish and English ; but few 
notices are found in which the names are German. 11 Those that 
came from England as servants were composed, to a considerable 
extent, of that shiftless population so numerous in the large cities 
of England during the colonial period. It was this class which gave 
the courts the greatest employment and filled the newspapers of the 
time with notices of runaways. While the Germans on the other 
hand had also the reckless and adventurous among their numbers, 
they came as a rule from that class who sought to better their con- 
dition by labor, and to establish homes. They were also an indus- 
trious class which formed the backbone of the agricultural interests 
of the colony. Further, even though among a large number of their 
countrymen, they were nevertheless in an English colony, and an 
attempt at runaway was naturally attended with greater risk to one 
to whom the laws and customs of the country were foreign. 

Many laws were passed to prevent servants' leaving their mas- 
ters, and every possible encouragement was given to citizens to ap- 

10 "Runaway on the first Day of July last, from William Wright of Lan- 
caster County a servant man named Thomas McSwine, but goes by the 
name of Thomas McGill, having with him a pass that belonged to one of 
that name." — Pa. Gazette, Mch. 20, 1740. 

11 In New Jersey where the population and condition of servants were not 
unlike those of Pennsylvania, out of 165 runaways advertised in the various 
newspapers during the period from 1751 to 1755, it appears that 60 were 
Irish; 30 negroes (slaves); 22 English; 16 Dutch; 5 Scotch; 2 Welsh; 2 
French; of the remaining 28, there was no means of determining the nation- 
ality. — New Jersey Archives, First series, Vol. XIX. 



82 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

prehend fugitives and deliver them over to the authorities. In 1683 
a bill was proposed by the Governor and passed by the council pro- 
viding that servants who ran away from their masters should serve 
five days for every day absent during the time of their service, and 
pay the costs and damages caused by their absence. 12 In 1700 the 
Assembly enacted a law offering ten shillings reward to any one 
who "shall apprehend or take up any runaway servant, and shall 
bring him or her to the sheriff of the county." This amount was 
paid by the sheriff, if the runaway was taken up within ten miles of 
the servant's abode. It was the duty of the sheriff to send notice to 
the master or owner, of whom he was to receive five shillings as 
prison fees upon the delivery of the servant," together with other 
"Disbursements and reasonable charges for and upon the same." 
All expenses incurred by the absence were finally to be paid by the 
runaway either by an extension of the time of service, or in money. 13 
A common practice which encouraged servants to leave their master 
was the secret employment of runaways by employers who offered 
to the fugitives easier conditions than those stipualted in their orig- 
inal indenture. The new master would offer to shorten the time of 
service, to keep the fugitive concealed, to pay money for his ser- 
vices, and to make other concessions if necessary. He might even 
offer him the terms of an ordinary hired servant, thus restoring him 
to freedom. To those servants who felt themselves oppressed by 
their masters, the offer of money wages and liberty was indeed a 
strong temptation, and it is not strange that many risked the penalty 
to gain their freedom, consequently an act was passed in the same 
year providing that "whoever shall conceal any servant or entertain 
him twenty-four hours without his master's consent, and shall not 
within the said time give notice thereof to some Justice of the Peace 
of the county, shall forfeit twenty shillings for every day's con- 
cealment." The Justice was compelled to issue a warrant within 
twenty-four hours after being notified to the next constable who 
was to commit the fugitive to the custody of the sheriff, who, after 
receiving him, was to notify the owner or master. 14 It would be 
erroneous to suppose that these laws against runaways were not 
frequently violated, for the operation of an institution cannot always 
be determined by the laws which are made to govern it. Especially 
was this true in the case of indentured servants. The law passed in 



"Col. Records. I: 80. 

"Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pa.: p. 8. Phila., 1775. 

14 Acts of Assembly of Province of Pa. p. 8. Phila., 1775. 



The "Runaways" 83 

1700 concerning runaways was frequently violated and frequent 
amendments were called for. This is shown by the preamble to an 
act of 1771 which recites that doubts have arisen whether after the 
expiration of the time of service justices can order servants, who 
during their time of service quitted their master, to make up 
lost time. Evidently the framers of the old law presupposed that all 
cases arising from runaways would be settled during the time of 
indenture ; that fugitives could not avoid detection for a long time. 
The actual conditions, however, proved to be quite the contrary ; 
many servants who ran away from their masters succeeded in avoid- 
ing detection ; the court records show comparatively few cases where 
the servant's time was extended for running away, and it may there- 
fore safely be inferred that the majority were never returned to their 
original owners. To settle all doubts as to previous laws it was now 
enacted that Justices of the Peace upon application or complaint 
of the master could oblige a person to make full recompense for 
the damages and charges sustained by his absence as a servant, 
either by serving five days for every day's absence, or by other satis- 
faction as the justice should decide. 15 This act was important as it 
made all of those liable to service, who at any time previously 
engaged as servants, had left their masters. In other words, a 
servant remained as such until he had served out the term of inden- 
ture regardless of the number of years he had been away from his 
master. In 1713 the General Assembly of New Jersey passed a law 
providing that servants absenting themselves from their masters 
without leave, were to serve double the time of their absence, and 
pay all costs incurred in their return. The same law also made it a 
penalty for any one to advise a servant to run away ; ten shillings 
being the fine for every day's concealment, and a reward of fifteen 
shillings was promised to any who would apprehend or return a 
runaway. Here, as in Pennsylvania, a pass was required of all trav- 
ellers, and boatmen and tavern-keepers were warned against carry- 
ing or entertaining suspected fugitives. 16 

In Maryland the regulations to prevent runaways were much the 
same as in Pennsylvania, though the penalties for their violation 
were much more severe. An act was passed in that province in 
1692, providing that all servants, even those hired for wages, trav- 



15 Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania: 392. Philadel- 
phia, 1775. 

16 Acts of the General Assembly of the Province of New Jersey, 1702- 
1776. Burlington, 1776. 



84 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

tiling ten miles from the house of their masters, should have a note 
under the hand of their overseer on penalty of being taken up for 
a runaway : it further provided that any servant absenting himself 
should serve ten days for every day's absence ; that any who enter- 
tained a runaway, should pay a fine of 500 pounds of tobacco for 
every twenty-four hours' entertainment ; that all persons travelling 
outside of the County in which they resided, should have a pass 
under the seal of the County. Twenty pounds of tobacco were given 
as a reward for taking up runaways. The Indians, even, were 
encouraged in hunting down fugitives and delivering them to a 
magistrate by being rewarded for their services by the gift of a 
"Match Coat" or the value of one. 17 A supplement to this act was 
passed in 1719 providing for the disposal of fugitives who were in 
charge of the sheriff ; if a master neglected to redeem him after 
receiving notice of his seizure, by paying all charges, the sheriff 
could sell him, retain his own fees, and be accountable to the owner 
for the residue. 18 That a similar law was in operation in Pennsyl- 
vania is shown from the advertisement of a certain William Strand, 
keeper of the prison at Norristown. The notice is in the Pennsyl- 
vania Packet of October 7, 1789, and reads as follows: "Was com- 
mitted to the gaol of Montgomery County, a certain George Sharpe, 
who says he is a servant to Patrick Story, in Sussex County, State 
of New Jersey, His master is desired to take him away in three 
weeks from the date or he will be sold for his fees." 19 

In some of the colonies cruel treatment on the part of the 
masters, was doubtless the cause of many runaways. In Maryland 
for example, a certain Richard Garford testified in a case brought 
before the Provincial Court in 1656, that "he was employed by John 
Little to fetch home his servant Billsberry and his Indian from the 
Indian cabin and they would not come saying they would rather 
live with pagans than to come home to be starved for want of food 
and to have their brains beaten out." 20 Complaints of cruel treat- 
ment were not infrequently brought before the Provincial Courts of 
Maryland. The case referred to, however, was an extreme example, 
and it would be incorrect to assume from individual cases that such 



17 Maryland Archives; Proceedings and Acts of the Assembly; 1684-92; 
p. 45 iff. Baltimore, 1894. 

18 A Compleat Collection of the Laws of Maryland: 1692-1725; p. 209. 
10 History of Montgomery County: 209. Phila.. 1884. 

10 Md. Archives, Judicial and Testamentary Business of the Provincial 
Court, i649-'5/: p. 484; Baltimore, 1891. 



The "Runaways." Sj 

was the general rule of their treatment. It depended entirely upon 
the master and the servant. In many instances harsh treatment was 
justified. In 1654 a suit was brought before the same court by a 
master against his two Irish servants for absenting themselves "for 
a long time" from service. The servants maintained that the cause 
of their leaving was abuse from the master in giving correction. "It 
appeared to the Court that the correction was not given without 
just cause. They were absent about six weeks." The court decided 
that for the expense incurred by their absence they were to pay 
200 pounds of tobacco, and serve eight months in addition to the 
full time of indenture. 21 

The treatment of servants in Pennsylvania was better than in 
Maryland and perhaps better than in any other colony ; and the 
reason for the large number of runaways finds its explanation in 
other causes than cruel treatment. The servants who came to 
Pennsylvania may be divided into two classes ; first those who came 
to the colony with a sincere desire to better their condition, to 
establish homes for themselves and their children, by honest labor; 
these gave little or no trouble, and usually served out their time to 
the satisfaction of their masters ; the other class were such as had 
been deceived by enchanting stories of fabulous wealth and fortunes 
that they supposed awaited them on their arrival. When indolence 
failed to bring the promised reward, when they realized that four 
years of monotonous labor under a stern master yielded only the 
bare necessities of life, they were disappointed and sought every 
opportunity to flee from a service that to them seemed worse than 
"Egyptian bondage." Among this class were also the shiftless who 
came from the English cities, sent to the colony to prevent them 
from becoming criminals at home. With no fixed purpose in life, 
with an abhorrence for labor, with a disregard for law and discipline, 
they were in disposition what they had been at home — vagabonds, 
and became in the colony the troublesome "runaways." 



21 Md. Archives, Judicial and Testamentary Business of the Provincial 
Court, i649-'57; p. 396. Baltimore, 1891. 



CHAPTER IX. 
PUNITIVE AND MARRIAGE REGULATIONS. 

A. PUNITIVE. 

The ordinary penalty imposed upon runaway servants, as has 
been shown, was an extension of the time of service or the payment 
of a fine in money. But for these and other offences severer methods 
of punishing the recalcitrants were allowed in Pennsylvania from 
the time of its establishment as a proprietary colony to the end of 
the 1 8th century. Masters were given the power of corporal punish- 
ment and from the contemporary accounts there is reason to believe 
that this right was frequently exercised. In one of the early meet- 
ings of the Provincial council, held in 1683, William Penn "put the 
question whether a proclamation were not convenient to be put 
forth to Impower Masters to chastise their servants, and to punish 
any that shall Inveigle any servant to goe from his master." It was 
unanimously agreed to by the council, 1 and it may here be added, 
practiced by the masters throughout the colonial period. 

The mode of punishment varied in different colonies and in dif- 
ferent times. Whipping and confinement to the public work-house 
was the ordinary method employed in minor offences, and was 
usually resorted to as a substitute for an extension of service. The 
court records of 1671 of New Amsterdam contain a case which was 
rather unusual and may here be mentioned by way of comparison. 
A servant lad being imprisoned for stealing a ring, and refusing to 
tell where he concealed it, was ordered to be privately whipped. 
After this punishment, he still refused to disclose the stolen article. 
The court then ordered that a year be added to the time of his 
indenture, and that the master should have the liberty of selling him 
to Virginia or any other colony. 2 To sell offenders out of the prov- 
ince was an unique way of disposing of an objectionable class, and 
not usually practiced under any condition. On the contrary, each 
colony usually attempted to reform its own criminals, and the law 
of Pennsylvania especially provides that no offender can be sold out 
of the Province under any conditions. 



1 Colonial Records I: 79. 

"Records of New Amsterdam 1653-74. VI: 279. N. Y., 1897. 



Punitive and Marriage Regulations. 87 

The legal relation of white servants, negroes and Indian slaves, 
to the free population in Pennsylvania is shown to some extent by 
the penal laws and the methods of punishment prescribed to trans- 
gressors. In nearly all cases the punishment of freemen and serv- 
ants differs, but in the majority of instances servants and slaves are 
classed in the same punitive category. An act of 1735, passed to 
prevent setting fires to woods, fixes the same penalty and mode of 
punishment for white servants as for negroes. "Any servant or 
negro slave," convicted of the violation of the act, "shall be whipped 
with any number of stripes not exceeding twenty-one, on his or her 
bare back, at the Discretion of the Justice * * * * and 
further, shall be committed to the Work-house of the county where 
the offence is committed, there to remain until the Costs of Prosecu- 
tion shall be paid." 3 In this act it is also' provided that the master 
could prevent the state from administering corporal punishment to 
his servant or slave by paying the damages incurred by the violation 
of the act. 

In this connection it may be mentioned that in extreme offences 
against the state, freemen could under certain conditions, be sold 
into "servitude." A law passed by the Assembly in 1739 provides 
that any one convicted of forgery or counterfeiting any kind of 
money, shall be sentenced to the pillory, to have both ears cut off 
and nailed to the pillory, and to be whipped on the bare back with 
thirty-one lashes, "well laid on ;" in addition to this, to forfeit the 
sum of 100 pounds to be levied on the goods and chattels of the 
offender ; to pay the aggrieved double the value of the damage sus- 
tained, with the costs and charges of prosecution ; if the offender was 
unable to pay the damag'es and charges, he could be sold into 
"servitude" not exceeding seven years. 4 "An act for regulating the 
nightly watch within the City of Philadelphia," passed by the 
Assembly in 1751, shows clearly the legal position of freemen, white 
servants and negroes with regard to punishment. For offences 
against this act, freemen were to pay five pounds for the first offence, 
and ten pounds for the second and every other offence ; but "if any 
servant or negro slave be convicted of incurring any of the fines, 
* * * * l ie s h a ll for the first offence be whipped on the bare 
back with twenty-one lashes at the public whipping post and kept 
on bread and water at hard labor in the public work-house three 



3 Acts of the Assembly of the Prov. of Pa.: 187. Phila., 1775. 

4 Statutes at Large of Pa. IV: 359, — 1897. 



88 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

days ; and for the second and every other offence shall receive thirty- 
one lashes, and be kept six days at hard labor." In a statute passed 
five years later the same distinction is made between freeman and 
servants. 5 In these two laws negroes and white servants were 
classed alike in matters of punishment. No provision was here 
made by which the masters could prevent the prescribed punish- 
ment from being inflicted by paying the damage incurred by the 
servant, as was the case in many penal laws. Here there was no 
alternative for the offending servant — white or black — but the whip- 
ping post and confinement at hard labor. 

On account of these differences in punishment, it does not, how- 
ever, follow that the servant or slave was made the object of legal 
discrimination because of his inferior position in the social scale. 
As negroes were slaves for life no other than corporal punishment 
could well be applied. An offence committed by a slave incurring 
a loss to the state, must remain a. loss, unless it was paid by the 
master ; no extension of time as in the case of servants could be 
used as a compensative method of correction. In another act of 
1 75 1 against racing and gambling, without license from the govern- 
ment, servants, negroes, and Indian slaves are treated alike in the 
matter of punishment, which differs from that of freemen in being 
corporal instead of a fine in money. The penalty for a violation of 
the act by a freeman consisted in the payment of a fine of three 
pounds for the first offence, and five pounds for the second and every 
other offence ; a violation of the same act by "a servant, or negro 
or Indian slave,'"' was made punishable by fifteen lashes, applied in 
the usual manner, and six days' confinement at hard labor in the 
County Work house, for the first offence ; and twenty-one lashes 
and ten days confinement for the second and every other offence. 6 

Although in some instances the punishment of servants was the 
same as that applied to negroes, and although it differed at times 
from that of freemen, it is not to be assumed that this was always 
the case. Many laws were common to freemen and servants. 
The peculiar relation of masters and servants necessitated certain 
special laws for the latter, just as minors to-day are subject 
to certain laws which apply to them alone. In some respects the 
legal relation of master and servant was like that of the parent and 
child. This relation is shown in an act of 1756 providing against the 
destruction of private and public property in the city of Philadel- 



Statutes at Large of Pa. V: 126, 241.— 1898. 

6 Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania; V: no. 1898. 



Punitive and Marriage Regulations. 89 

phia : "If any person under age, bound servant, apprentice, negro 
or mulatto be convicted of incurring any penalties or damages men- 
tioned in this act, the parent, guardian, or master shall be obliged 
to pay the said penalties in the same manner as if they themselves 
had been guilty of incurring the same." 7 

Generally speaking, the punishment of servants as provided by 
law was not unusually severe, when compared with that provided 
for the punishment of freemen. It would be incorrect to suppose 
that because servants were more frequently made to suffer corporal 
punishment than freemen, that there was any legal disparity between 
the two classes farther than that arising from the necessity of the 
relationship. In other words, there was no legal discrimination 
against servants. The general aim of the penal code in regard to 
servants was to make the offender financially responsible for all 
damages and charges incurred by the violation of an act. But as 
the servant was not supposed to possess the means of liquidating a 
fine by the payment of money, there was no< alternative but to 
extend the time of service or to apply corporal punishment. For 
example, in case of a runaway, who had been taken up and returned 
to his master, the fees of the notice, of the constable, of the sheriff, 
the reward, though paid directly by the master, were ultimately paid 
by the servant in an extension of the time of service. Ordinarily 
in civil offences the time was extended ; in criminal offences, cor- 
poral punishment and confinement in the public work-house were 
demanded by the state, unless the master paid the damage incurred 
by his servant, which, as has been shown, was permitted in some 
instances. 

The severity of the penal laws, affecting servants, must be con- 
sidered in the light of the conditions and times in which they were 
framed. Among the more unusual punishments applied to freemen, 
whipping was common, and is even practiced to-day in some of the 
states ; branding, gagging, wearing the badge of thievery, the pil- 
lory, "to have the ears cut off and nailed to the pillory," were pun- 
ishments prescribed by the law ; lying in common conversation cost 
a half crown or three days' imprisonment, if the laws were enforced. 
The whipping of a woman servant had a parallel in the custom law 
on the statute books even to the end of the 18th century, which 
"allowed men to beat their wives with a stick, provided it was not 
bigger than the judge's thumb." s As late as 1783 the court of 



7 Statutes at Large of Pa. V: 241. 1898. 

8 Hist, of Westmoreland County (Pa.) : 59. Phila., 1882. 



go Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Westmoreland county records a sentence of a most barbarous 
nature : A certain John Smith pleads guilty to the crime of felony 
and this judgment is rendered : "that the said John Smith be taken 
to-morrow morning * * * * to the public whipping post and 
there to receive thirty-nine lashes on his bare back, well laid on ; 
that his ears be cut off and nailed to the common pillory ; that he 
stand one hour in the pillory ; that he make restitution of the stolen 
goods ; that he pay a fine of twenty pounds * * * * and that 
he stand committed until this sentence is complied with." 9 

Trade with servants was prohibited by an act of the Assembly 
in 1 700. The object of this law was to prevent a practice which 
seems to have been very common in some of the colonies : The 
court records and contemporary documents show that frequent com- 
plaints were filed against servants for stealing their masters' goods 
which they sold to persons who made a practice of this illicit trade. 
The desire for ready money on the part of the servant was a strong 
incentive leading him to accept the offer of the illegal purchasers, 
who in some cases seem to have carried on an extensive and sys- 
tematic trade. To discourage this trade it was enacted, "that who- 
soever shall deal or traffick with any servant, white or black, for any 
kind of goods or Merchandise without leave of the owner * * * 
* shall forfeit treble the value of the goods to the owner ; and the 
servant if white, shall make satisfaction to his master by servitude, 
after the expiration of the time of service, to double the value of the 
goods ; if black, shall be severely whipped in the most public place 
of the township where the offence is committed." 10 

An act of 1721 places the servant in the same legal category as 
the minor. It forbids innkeepers within the province from receiv- 
ing, harboring, entertaining or trusting any minor under 21 years 
of age ; or any servant knowing them to be such, or being warned 
against it by the master. The penalty imposed upon the innkeeper 
for the violation of this act was the same whether in connection 
with a minor or servant. 11 

B. MARRIAGE. 

In regard to marriage the master occupied a position which, in 
its relation to the servant, was not unlike that existing between 
parent and child. In 1701 the assembly passed a law fixing the con- 

Quoted in Hist, of Westmoreland Co. (Pa.): 59- Phila., 1882. 

10 Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pa.: 8. Phila., 1/75- 

11 Laws of the Commonwealth of Pa. I: 156. Phila., 1797. 



Punitive and Marriage Regulations. pi 

clitions under which a servant might marry. Any servant marrying 
without the consent of the master or mistress was required to serve 
one year after the regular time of service had expired. Any free 
man marrying a servant without the consent of the master was 
required to pay twelve pounds or perform one year's service ; if a 
free woman married a servant under the same conditions she was 
required to pay six pounds, or serve one year. The conditions 
imposed upon a servant marrying without the consent of the master 
were the same whether the marriage was with a servant or with a 
free person — in each case a year was added to the time of service. 12 
Those servants who belonged to religious societies were not 
included in this act, and might marry in the society to which they 
belonged, provided either party to the marriage gave notice to the 
master a month before the marriage was solemnized. As no penalty 
was imposed upon the justices of the peace for marrying persons 
contrary to this law it was frequently eluded until in 1730, a fine of 
fifty pounds was imposed upon any officer uniting in marriage any 
persons not possessing the proper credentials. 13 The right on the 
part of the servant to marry involved a penalty which was ordinarily 
so far beyond his means that the master virtually had the power of 
prohibiting the marriage of any servant without his consent. He 
might ask any price not exceeding twelve pounds, in the case of 
men, and six pounds in the case of women j or demand from each 
an additional year of labor. 14 

As the negroes constituted a comparatively small part of the 
servant class in Pennsylvania there seems to have been little occa- 
sion for laws regulating the marriage between whites and slaves. 
The nearest approach to such a law was an act of the Assembly in 



12 Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pa.: 18. Phila., 1775. 

13 Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania; IV: 154. 1897. 

Abbe Raynal in speaking of the servants in Pennsylvania says: "None of 
those who are contracted for, have a right to marry without the approbation 
of their master, who sets what price he choses on his consent." — Hist, of 
Settlement, etc., VII: 409. London, 1783. 

14 Frequent cases occurred to which the following law was applicable: "If 
any single woman being a servant by indenture or covenant, have a bastard 
child within the time of service, she shall serve such farther time, as beyond 
the term of her indenture or covenant mentioned, as the Justice of the 
Peace, in the Quarter Sessions, shall think fit as a compensation to her Mas- 
ter or Mistress for the loss and damage they have sustained, by reason of her 
bearing such bastard in the time of her servitude; provided it be not more 
than two years, nor less than one." — Acts of the Assembly of the Province 
of Pennsylvania; p. 27. Phila., 1775. 



Q2 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

1726 which failed to receive the recognition of the King, but which 
came to be recognized as a law in the Province. It provided that 
no minister should unite in marriage a negro with any white person 
on penalty of 100 pounds ; that any white man or woman living with 
a negro under pretence of being married should pay a fine of 30 
pounds or be sold as a servant not exceeding seven years ; that 
children of such parents be "put out to service" until they arrive 
at the age of thirty-one years ; that if a free negro, man or woman, 
intermarry with any white man or woman, such negro shall become 
a slave during life. 15 In Maryland at one period marriages between 
free born English white women and negro slaves were so frequent 
that a law was passed in 1663, making the wives of such marriages 
slaves during the lifetime of their husbands ; and the children of 
such a union were held as slaves for life. Neill in his Terra Mariae, 
speaks of a domestic of Lord Baltimore who married a negro slave. 
Through her employer's influence the application of the law was 
modified in her behalf, but it did not prevent the enslaving of her 
children. 16 

While penal laws in Pennsylvania empowered masters to bring 
refractory servants to justice, to lengthen the time of service, to 
administer corporal punishment, they were no less pronounced, 
though less in number, in giving servants the right to bring their 
masters to terms for the abuse of any privilege, or the neglect of 
any duty. Penn's Frame of Government of 1683, one of the first 
laws governing the Province, provides "that servants be not kept 
longer than their time, and such as are careful, be both justly and 
kindly used in their service, and put in fitting equipage at the expira- 
tion thereof according to custom." 17 Even in Maryland where the 
treatment of servants differed little from that of slaves a law of 171 5 
provided that any master who "shall deny, and not provide sufficient 
Meat, Drink, Lodging and Clothing, or shall unreasonably burden 
servants beyond their strength, with Labor, or debar them of their 
necessary rest or sleep, or excessively beat and abuse them, or shall 
give them above ten lashes for any one offence" shall for the first 
offence be liable to pay a penalty of 1000 pounds of tobacco ; and 
for the third offence the servant shall be set free. 18 In 1665 in the 



"Statutes at Large of Pa. IV: 62— 1897. 
16 Ed. D. Neill, Terra Mariae, 203, Phila., 1867. 
"Section XXIX. 

18 A Compleate Collection of the Laws of Maryland; 1692-1725. Annap- 
olis, 1727. 



Punitive and Marriage Regulations. pj 

same province, before the enactment of these laws, one of the court 
records gives an account of a servant who was brought to trial for 
running away from his master, "but on account of ill usage and 
expressing fear of returning, the court set the servant free from his 
master and mistress." 19 A law of New Jersey provided that in case 
"any master or mistress be guilty of misusage, refusal of necessary 
provision, or clothing, or cruelty * * * * to any apprentice 
or servant" v.ie justice of the peace might set the servant at liberty. 20 
In this province, as in Pennsylvania and Maryland, the party 
aggrieved — either master or servant — had the right of redress, by 
presenting his complaint to the Justice of the Peace, whose duty it 
was to judge and punish the offender. This, as it placed the servant 
in a position that enabled him, without expense, to bring the master 
to justicr, was an important right. In this respect the two were 
equal before the law, and, while the weaker party, the servant, did 
not frequently avail himself of the opportunity which the law 
granted him, the provision was, nevertheless, a considerable barrier 
against injustice. 



19 Maryland Archives; Judicial and Testamentary Business of the Provin- 
cial Court, 1649-57. Baltimore, 1891. 

20 Laws of the State of New Jersey, p. 305. New Brunswick, 1800. 



CHAPTER X. 



THE SERVANT IN THE ARMY. 

The enlisting of servants in the royal army at different periods 
of the history of Pennsylvania was one of the many questions in 
which the opinion of the Assembly differed from that of the home 
government. It grew in intensity and bitterness in proportion as 
the number of servants swelled the ranks of the royal army, and it 
contributed in no small degree to widen the breach which ultimately 
led to the separation of the colonies from the mother country. The 
prominent position which Pennsylvania occupied in the colonial 
group, with men like Franklin championing the cause of the colony, 
was significant in adding weight to the opposition of royal authority. 
Could British recruiting officers enlist servants without the consent 
of their masters ? This was the question upon which the Assembly 
differed from Parliament. It led at once to the discussion of the 
legal position of the servant. In the case of slaves, their position 
was obvious ; they were chattels and could no more be taken from 
the master than his horse or his mule. Owners of servants claimed 
the same right over their servants whom they had "bought" for a 
period of years. 

The question first arose in Pennsylvania in 171 1, when a petition 
of the free holders stated that "several apprentices and bought 
servants" had left their masters to enlist in the Queen's service in 
the province of New Jersey. An act had been passed by the home 
government to raise money and troops for the war against Canada, 
and the petitioners complain of "great inequality and hardships fall- 
ing on such masters as lose servants and yet pay their rates levied 
upon them for the Queen's use." In this case the grievance was 
settled to the satisfaction of the masters. It was enacted that every 
person in the province giving proof to the Lieutenant Governor 
and Treasurer that servants had enlisted without their consent, 
should receive ten shillings per month for every servant enlisted, 
provided, rhe whole sum did not exceed twenty pounds. Masters 
who were thus paid, were required to release all claim to the servant, 
and deliver the indenture to the Governor who could again assign 
the servant to whom he wished. 



The Servant in the Army. p$ 

Nothing more is heard of the question of enlistment until in 
1739, war was declared against Spain, and a demand came from 
England for supplies and men to form an expedition against the 
West Indies. Early in the following year, Governor Thomas gave 
notice in a proclamation in which the recruiting officers were 
"strictly enjoined not to discover any Person's Name, that shall be 
desirous to have it concealed." In a postscript he adds, "If any 
Swedes, Germans, Swissers, or others, will engage a number of their 
countrymen to enlist in this glorious Expedition, they will receive 
suitable encouragement in the companies raised by them : The 
King will supply the troops raised, with arms, clothing and pay, and 
has engaged his Royal word to send all persons back to their respec- 
tive habitations when the service shall be over, unless they shall 
desire to settle themselves elsewhere." 1 This part of the proclama- 
tion was intended as a bid for servants, and it had its desired effect. 
As a result there were numerous complaints of the enlistment of 
"bought servants" over which the Governor and Assembly 
wrangled throughout the war period. Nor was it long before the 
Assembly found an opportunity of retaliating against this proclama- 
tion. In answer to a demand for money that body with Franklin 
as chairman, "resolved, that a warrant do issue to the Treasurer, 
that he pay the sum of 3000 pounds for the use of our Sovereign 
George II * * * * provided always, that no warrant do issue 
from the speaker until all the servants now enlisted in the King's 
service be returned to their respective masters free of charge, and 
assurance that no more servants be enlisted or taken from their 
masters in the future." 2 This grant was made by the Assembly 
who knew well that the conditions could not be complied with. It 
would have been impossible to return all servants to their masters 
had the British officers really desired to do so, and it was therefore 
a refusal on the part of the assembly to assist in their own defence. 

The policy of the Assembly throughout the war was extremely 
selfish and narrow. They continued to thwart every measure of the 
Governor and Parliament for the defence of the province, and aid of 
the Crown, by withholding his salary until he was compelled to 
yield to their wishes, or resign. The Governor accused them of dis- 
loyalty, and of not acting in good faith in their grant of supplies, 
but they denied this, claiming that they were ready and willing to 
demonstrate their loyalty and fidelity by giving their due share, on 



Pennsylvania Gazette; April 24, 1740. 
2 Colonial Records IV: 459. 



g6 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

condition that the "servants so unjustly taken from their masters be 
returned." Nevertheless the defiant conclusion of a message to the 
Governor, June 9th, 1840, shows anything but a willingness to com- 
ply with authority, and only increases the bitter feeling between the 
Governor and the Assembly: "If this be denied the consequences 
must lie at the Governor's door ; and we shall think it our duty on 
behalf of the great number of freemen of this Province who are in- 
jured by the taking and detaining of their servants, to make humble 
suit to the Crown in their behalf, for that redress we are denied by 
the Governor." 3 The complaints of the assembly continue. It 
maintains that a great number of servants are enlisted from the 
country where labor is difficult to obtain, and where their services 
are imperatively demanded by the young colony ; that the King and 
Parliament seemed desirous of encouraging the importation of 
white servants rather than negroes, and if the property of the mas- 
ter is so precarious as to depend upon the will of the servant and 
the pleasure of an officer, it cannot but be expected that there will 
be fewer purchasers of servants in the future, and that trade will 
consequently be much discouraged; that if masters have their 
property thus taken away, it will not be easy to show that any goods 
in which they have the most absolute property may not with equal 
reason be taken from them as their servants. 4 

It appears that the assembly prevailed upon the Governor to 
order the enlisted servants to be discharged ; for a letter from the 
recruiting officers to the chairman of the assembly, complains that 
the progress of their companies has been greatly discouraged by the 
late accounts which have come to them from members of the assem- 
bly who gave out that "they do not doubt but all indentured ser- 
vants enlisted within this province will soon be disbanded ; for that 
assembly, by some proceedings of their house have laid the Governor 
under necessity of discharging all the servants or apprentices and 
to oblige those concerned to return them to their respective owners 
without charge and to the satisfaction of the persons nominated for 
the purpose." 5 The request of the assembly and Governor, how- 
ever, was not complied with. The recruiting officers maintained that 
they had no right to return them to their masters ; that they did not 
know where they iived ; that some were called servants who denied 
being such. They further were of the opinion that discharging 



3 Colonial Records IV: 459. 

* Ibid. 436-7- 

B Colonial Records IV: 466. 



The Servant in the Army. py 

servants would be dangerous to the public peace ; that all subjects 
not restrained by Parliament, have a right to enlist ; that the griev- 
ance of the assembly was not so great as had been represented, 
many having so short a time to serve that the loss to the master 
would be amply repaid by the detention of the freedom dues ; that 
the number of servants raised could well be spared, and that the loss 
to the masters could be paid out of the public money. 6 

After a year of controversy between the assembly and the army 
officers, matters were in the same condition as at the beginning of 
the war, except that the assembly had persuaded or forced the Gov- 
ernor to make certain concessions. This they accomplished by 
withholding his salary until he gave way to their demands. In the 
meantime the army officers were recruiting their ranks from ser- 
vants as well as freemen, and the assembly, when appealed to, could 
only reimburse in some measure, the masters for their losses. On 
the 3d of June, 1741, orders were signed and delivered to James 
Gibbon and Samuel Lewis, for the payment, by the loan officer of 
£515-1 is-o,d, for fifty-eight enlisted servants from Chester County. 
The next day a petition from the owners of iron works at Coventry 
and Warwick, stated that ten servants had been taken from them by 
enlistment; among them were colliers which had put a stop to the 
works, causing several hundred pounds damage to the petitioners. 
On July 22nd, an additional sum of £84-115-1 id, was ordered to be 
paid on account of enlisted servants. Later, Enoch Pearson re- 
ceived £7-ios, and Abraham Emmit £3-135^, each losing one ser- 
vant by enlistment. 7 

At the breaking out of the French and Indian War, a new and 
heavier demand was made by the Crown for supplies and men. 
This again brought up the question of enlistment and revived the 
conflict between the assembly and royal authority. A law regu- 
lating the enlistment was passed by the assembly November 25th, 
1755. It contained a provision "that no youth under the age of 
twenty-one years, nor any bought servant or indentured apprentice 
shall be admitted to enroll himself or be capable of being enrolled in 
the companies or regiments without the consent of parents, guard- 
ians, or masters, in writing." 8 On the 7th of July in the following 



6 Ibid. 468. 

7 History of Chester County (Pa.): 49; Phila., 1881. 

8 Statutes at Large of Pa. V: 200. Phila., 1898. A similar act was passed 
by the assembly of New Jersey. It was voted that 500 able-bodied freemen 
or "well affected Indians" be enlisted. To make up this number, criminals 



g8 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

year, it was repealed by the king in council. During the next four 
years, four similar acts were successively passed by the assembly, 
and repealed by the crown. While the home government and the 
assembly were passing laws diametrically opposed to each other, 
neither party yielding to the other, the army officers issued such 
orders as they deemed expedient, while the Governor became a sort 
of a mediator and message bearer between the conflicting parties, 
favoring at times the assembly, then again the army officers, accord- 
ing as his salary was forthcoming or withheld. 

A letter from General Shirley to Colonel Dunbar, September 
15th, 1755, shows that in the early part of the war the Colonial 
authorities avoided as far as possible the enlisting of servants. He 
writes, "Upon the advices I have received from gentlemen of the 
greatest zeal for his majesty's service, as well as the best judges in 
Pennsylvania and other western colonies, I am convinced that the 
Inlisting of Apprentices and Indentured Servants there, will greatly 
disserve his interests, as well as be in most cases grievances to the 
subjects ; and would therefore recommend it to you in the strongest 
manner to avoid doing it." 9 This order seems to have been carefully 
observed for four months ; for the 24th of January in the following 
year, the president of the council writes to General Shirley as fol- 
lows : "The officers recruiting here had carefully avoided enlisting 
indentured servants in obedience to the kind orders of General Brad- 
dock in his lifetime, and your Excellency * * * * had given 
them to that purpose till about three days ago when their Sergeants 
on beating up for volunteers publicly invited all servants to enlist 
in his Majesty's service and declared that they had instructions from 
their superior officers to do so." 10 

The change in General Shirley's instructions marks the begin- 
ning of a bitter conflict between that officer and the assembly. Im- 
mediately contentions between the masters of servants and the re- 
cruiting officers occurred in which, upon this occasion, bloodshed 
was only avoided by the interposition of some of the magistrates who 
forbid the enlisting of servants until a further report from General 
Shirley should arrive. A letter from Governor Morris of February 



were acquitted and pardoned of all offenses, except felony, committed before 
the passage of the act, but a penalty of 20 pounds was imposed upon all 
officers unlawfully enlisting any servants. — Acts of the General Assembly of 
the Province of N. J. Vol. II: 35. 

8 Pennsylvania Archives; II: 417; Phila., 1853. 

10 Colonial Records VI: 777. 



The Servant in the Army. pp 

12th, 1 756, to Sir Charles Hardy, then Governor of New York, admits 
the legality of enlisting servants and shows the effect that this prac- 
tice had at times upon the inhabitants of the colony. He says, "This 
is a matter that once before in the administration of Governor 
Thomas threw the province into great confusion, and though I have 
no doubt concerning the rights of the crown to the personal service 
of its subjects in the defence of the Dominions, let their private con- 
tract be what they will, yet in the present case I wish the regiments 
could have been completed by other means, as it lays a heavy and 
very unequal burden upon the inhabitants of this province, and I 
am afraid will put my assembly into such a temper as may hinder 
them from taking the proper part in the measures concerted for the 
common safety." X1 

A day after Governor Morris had sent his letter to Sir Charles 
Hardy, he received an address from the assembly into which peti- 
tions had in the meantime come from all parts of Pennsylvania, by 
masters of servants, complaining of new enlistments. According 
to this address, the masters complain that, since they have few 
slaves, they are obliged to depend upon servants for tilling the land ; 
that if servants be at the will of a recruiting officer they will be com- 
pelled to use negroes, and the white population will decrease ; that 
servants must be humored in every way to prevent them from en- 
listing ; that many pretend they will enlist, and when away, do not ; 
that they are the property of the master by right, especially those 
brought to the colony under acts of Parliament, or those becoming 
servants under the laws of the colony. 12 This address was imme- 
diately sent by the Governor to General Shirley whose reply was 
anything but conciliatory. He argues that the king has a right to 
the service of indentured servants as well as other volunteers ; that 
it is now a necessity, that the domain requires it. Against the claim 
of illegality he replies that "many instances might be cited to show 
that this proposition is not universally true ; and as to servants, the 
supposition that the king is precluded by contracts between them 
and their masters from the rights he had to their service for the de- 
fence of his dominions is not founded in the nature of the govern- 
ment in general, and is contrary to the practice of it in the English 
constitution." Continuing he says, "When a country is in danger 
of being lost to the enemy it is not a time to enter into critical dis- 
sertations whether the enlisting of servants many not have a ten- 



11 Pennsylvania Archives, II: 572. 

12 Colonial Records VII: 37. 



ioo Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

dency to lessen the importation of them into the country for future 
tillage of the land, and to increase that of slaves." 13 The only con- 
cession which General Shirley made was a promise to order the offi- 
cers to release such servants as were willing to return to their mas- 
ters. This, however, was far from satisfying the owners of servants, 
as but few, if any, had enlisted against their own wishes and conse- 
quently remained in the service. 

The question of legality was settled by an act of Parliament in 
1756. It was enacted that officers in any of his Majesty's forces in 
America might legally enlist as a soldier, any indentured servant, 
"any law, custom, or usage to the contrary in any wise not with- 
standing." To this provision was, however, added, that if the 
owner of a servant objected within six months after the enlistment, 
the servant was to be released, or the master was to receive such a 
sum for the servant as any two justices of the peace should decide. 14 

The proviso of this act which was to give masters a means of 
redress, seems to have been generally disregarded by the army offi- 
cers ; at any rate servants continued to be enlisted in the royal army 
against the will of their masters until after the Revolution, and the 
only means of redress which the owners of servants had, was in the 
Assembly which frequently passed acts to reimburse such as had lost 
servants in this manner. 

During the Revolution many servants enlisted in the continental 
forces, and the conflict between the owners of servants, and the mili- 
tary officers, though now transferred entirely to America, still con- 
tinued. The willingness of this class to enlist in the army in order 
to escape the service of their masters was sometimes taken advan- 
tage of by British officers by offering special inducements to the 
servant class, including slaves, to leave their masters. When in 
1775, Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, after a trifling military 
success near Norfolk, raised the king's flag and published a procla- 
mation establishing martial law, and requiring every person capable 
of bearing arms to resort to his standard, under penalty of life and 
property, he declared freedom "to all indentured servants, negroes, 
or others appertaining to rebels" if they would "join for the reducing 
of the colony to a proper sense of its duty." This was a move 
which Washington considered a great danger to the cause of inde- 
pendence. Referring to Dunmore, he writes, "that man * * 
* * will be the most formidable enemv of America if some ex- 



Pennsylvania Archives by S. Hazard, II: 587-92. 
Statutes at Large, 29 Geo. II: c. 35, sect. I. Lond., 1764. 



The Servant in the Army. 101 

peclient cannot be hit upon to convince the servants and slaves of 
the impotency of his designs." 15 

The Council of Safety in Pennsylvania on the 19th of Septem- 
ber, 1776, resolved, that indentured servants and apprentices ought 
not to be enlisted without the consent of their masters in writing, 
and that all who have been enlisted should be discharged on appli- 
cation of their masters for that purpose. 16 But these orders like 
those of the assembly were disregarded by the recruiting officers of 
the state, and the Supreme Executive Council now attempt to cor- 
rect what they regard "so distressing to the masters." In 1777 
they issue an order "to forbid all recruiting officers in the conti- 
nental service, and all others, from enlisting servants or apprentices 
within this state, on pain of being prosecuted with the utmost rigour 
of the law." 1T The attempts of this body to prevent the enlistment 
of servants in the army, were, however, like former attempts, at 
most but a restriction upon a practice which was becoming more 
common. The numerous claims presented to the state by masters 
who had lost servants by enlistment, resulted in an act of the assem- 
bly, March 12, 1778, which directed the County Treasurers "to pay 
for servants enlisted into any of the Pennsylvania regiments." To 
what extent servants enlisted as late as 1781 is shown in a measure 
from a letter of that year dated February 17th, from the Treasurer 
of Lancaster county to President Reed. After stating that he had 
paid £415-105, by order of the justices to the masters who had lost 
servants, he says, "I have refused to pay any further order of the 
Justices on account of Indentured Servants as it will take more 
money than we will receive in Taxes." 18 



Bancroft, Hist. U. S. VIII: 223, 225. Boston, i860. 
Colonial Records, X: 724. 

Col. Rec. Minutes of Sup. EX. Council, XI: 243. 
Penn. Arch. S. Hazard, VIII: 730; Phila., 1853. 



CHAPTER XL 



THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE SERVANT. 

To give an accurate idea of the social position that the servant of 
Pennsylvania occupied, is no easy task, because there are almost as 
many different opinions as there are contemporary accounts. Gen- 
eralizations, therefore, are meaningless or at best inadequate, espe- 
cially when applied to a state of society composed of so many 
diverse elements as were found in that province during the colonial 
period. There were the Germans, Dutch, English, and Irish, repre- 
senting different national traits ; there were the Quakers and the 
Presbyterians, believing in different religious creeds. Each of these 
divisions require a different standard from which to judge of their 
relation with their fellow men. For example, the Quakers, as a 
body, took an early stand against the institution of slavery, and it 
was largely through their influence that Pennsylvania played so 
prominent a part in the ultimate suppression of the slave trade. A 
class possessing this spirit of fellow-feeling for all grades of society, 
naturally regard their servants more on a social equality with them- 
selves, than would the Presbyterians who found a sanction for slav- 
ery in the Scriptures. 

In a colony like Virginia, composed mainly of English settlers, 
with common political and religious ideas, the treatment, and social 
condition of the servant may be estimated in a more general way ; 
but in Pennsylvania where nearly every county was made up of a 
population differing in nationality and religious beliefs from those 
about it, no such estimate can be regarded as adequate. Society 
was factional, disunited ; a belief or an opinion held by one faction 
was a sufficient ground for an adverse opinion by the other. The 
Quakers regarded the Presbyterians as the same as the Massachu- 
setts Puritans who had whipped their co-religionists and put four of 
them to death, and they were quite determined on squaring the ac- 
count. So bitter was the hatred betwen the Scotch-Irish and the 
Germans that the former on one occasion had a full intention of 
attacking the latter and marched with that intention armed 
to Germantown, the stronghold of their enemies. On this occasion, 
however, the Quakers broke with their traditional peace policy and 



The Social Status of the Servant. ioj 

armed themselves against their aggressors. The Palatines, driven 
from the Rhine by war and famine, were naturally prompted by dif- 
ferent motives than were the shiftless vagrants coming from the 
cities of England. It was to a large extent upon this difference of 
nationality, character, or religious belief, that the behavior of a 
servant, or the conduct of a master depended. 

In any system of servitude the master by virtue of his position 
possesses advantages over the servant. He may be domineering or 
abusive in such a way as to make it difficult for those subordinate 
to him to find redress ; equal rights before the law by no means 
implies social equality, and sometimes not legal equality in fact. 
While there were laws granting to servants the right to bring their 
masters to justice, for any cruel or unjust treatment, there seems 
to have been few occasions upon which this right was exercised. In 
the year 1700, the Governor and Council of Maryland received a 
complaint from a certain inhabitant, stating that a servant of his, a 
schoolmaster, whom he had corrected, had applied to a magistrate 
for a peace warrant against him. The Council considering the mat- 
ter decided not to countenance the servant, "for it was not custom- 
ary to allow servants to swear the peace against their masters, and 
it might be very inconvenient." x The same in practice was true in 
Pennsylvania, and in fact in all colonies that had servants. There 
is little evidence to show that servants applied to magistrates for 
protection. Their method of redress, when ill treated, was usually 
found in running away, and if taken up and brought before the 
court, they would plead cruel treatment as the cause of leaving, and 
if their complaint was well founded, they would sometimes get their 
freedom. 

A law of 1700 provided that no servant could be compelled to 
work on Sunday. A fine of twenty shillings was imposed for every 
violation of this act, and though it was repealed six years later, it 
became a general rule in Pennsylvania, and seems to have been a 
customary practice in all of the colonies. George Alsop, in his 
"Character of the Province of Maryland," represents the condition 
of servants as being very mild : "Five days and a half in the summer 
weeks is the allotted time that they work in ; and for two months 
when the sun predominates in the highest pitch of his heat, they 
claim an ancient and customary privilege, to repose themselves three 
hours a day within the house, and this is undeniably granted to them 



1 J. R. Brackett, The Negro in Maryland, p. 24. Baltimore, 1889. 



104 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

that work in the field." But it must be remembered tha: Alsop 
writes to encourage immigration into Maryland, and naturally rep- 
resents conditions in as favorable a light as possible. A better 
authority, though representing the opposite extreme is William 
Eddis, an English traveler in America, and eight years a resident, 
who writes in 1770. He declares "they are strained to the utmost 
to perform their allotted labor ; and, from a prepossession in many 
cases too justly founded, they are supposed to be receiving the just 
reward which is due to repeated offences. There are doubtless many 
exceptions to this observation, yet, generally speaking, they groan 
beneath a worse than Egyptian bondage," 2 Eddis condemns the 
system of indentured service from start to finish. The inhabitants 
of Maryland, he writes, treat the convicts the same as indentured 
servants, and not unfrequently show them more consideration, 
regarding them more profitable, as their term is for seven years, 
while that of indentured servants is only five. "Negroes bound for 
life are nearly always more comfortable than the Europeans over 
whom the rigid planter exercises an inflexible severity." The situa- 
tion of the free willers, he observes, is, in almost every instance more 
to be lamented than either that of the convict or the indentured 
servant ; further, that the inhabitants of Maryland doubted whether 
people with unimpeachable character would come to America to 
accept a servile position ; that character is of little value, and little 
regarded by masters in search of laborers ; that they were not often 
disposed to hire such as expected to be gratified in full proportion 
to their acknowledged qualifications. "From this detail," he con- 
cludes, "I am persuaded, you will no longer imagine, that servants 
in this country, are in a better situation than those in Great Brit- 
ain." 8 Although Eddis' description represents an extreme condi- 
tion, it must nevertheless be regarded as a correct picture of a large 
class of the servants in Maryland. Even convicts sometimes chose 
severe penalties in preference to a term of servitude. 

In Pennsylvania their condition was somewhat better than in 
Maryland, and yet their condition here was often little better than 
that of slaves. 4 Mittleberger, whose authority seems trustworthy, 
says, "Our Europeans who are purchased must always work hard, 
for new fields are constantlv laid out. * * * * However hard 



2 Letters from America: 70. 

3 William Eddis, Letters from America: 69-75. 

4 History of Westmoreland County: 59. Phila., 1S82. 



The Social Status of the Servant. 105 

one may be compelled to work in his Fatherland, he will surely find 
it quite as hard, if not harder, in the new country." 5 

The number of convicts in the colonies did much to bring the 
entire servant class into disrepute. The blending of this vicious 
element with the rest of the population gave the laboring class, and 
especially the servants who were too often regarded on the same 
plane with convicts, a deteriorating tendency which affected the 
whole state of society. Franklin, in the Gazette, makes frequent 
mention of the criminals and their pernicious influence on the public 
morals. 6 

In spite of the many contemporary accounts, favorable to the 
character of the servant class, — and there were many examples of 
honesty and integrity among them, — there is much evidence to lead 
one to believe that a large proportion lived upon a low moral plane. 
In a pamphlet written in verse, entitled the "Sot-Weed-Factor, or 
a Voyage to Maryland," "' a great deal of light is thrown on the 
state of society as it existed in the colonies about 1700, and espe- 
cially on the character of women servants. The moral tone was 
low. Illiteracy prevailed among all classes. The factor mentions 
"A reverend Judge, who to the shame of all the bench could 
write his name," and adds by way of explanation, that "in the 
county court of Maryland, very few of the justices of the peace can 
read or write." On one occasion the factor was entertained at the 
home of a planter who owned a number of female servants. By one 
who he says "passed for a chambermaid," he was conveyed to his 
room. Her degraded appearance led him to make inquiries concern- 
ing her past ; when she, with an affected blush, replied : 

"In better times e'er to this Land 
I was unhappily trapann'd; 
Perchance as well I did appear, 
As any Lord or Lady here. 



6 Journey to Pennsylvania: 30. 

6 A writer who styles himself "America," in the Gazette of May 9, 1751, 
commenting sarcastically on "that good and wise act of Parliament by virtue 
of which all the Newgates and Dungeons in Great Britain are emptied into 
the Colonies," says, "Our Mother knows what is best for us. What is a lit- 
tle House-breaking, Shop-lifting, or Highway-robbing; what is a son now 
and then corrupted and hanged, a Daughter debauched, and Pox'd, a wife 
stabbed, a Husband's throat cut, or a child's brains beat out with an Axe, 
compared with this 'Improvement and Well peopling of the Colonies.' " 

7 Written by a certain Ebenezer Cook; London, 1807. The "Sot-Weed- 
Factor" was a tobacco agent. 



jo6 Kedemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Not then a slave for twice two Year. 
My Cloaths were fashionably new, 
Nor were my shifts of Linnen Blue; 
But things are changed, now at the Hoe, 
I daily work and Barefoot go, 
In weeding Corn or feeding Swine, 
I spend my melancholy Time." 8 

In justice to Pennsylvania it must be remembered that the above 
quotation applies to Maryland ; however, the social life in Pennsyl- 
vania, in the middle of the 18th century, according to Mittleberger, 
is very much like that described by the Sot-Weed-Factor. "If any 
one," he says, "has lost a wife or a husband in Germany, * * * 
* he or she can find such lost treasure, if the same be still alive, 
in America, for Pennsylvania is the gathering place of all runaways 
and good-for-nothings." 9 

Samuel Breck, whose trustworthiness is not questioned, and 
whose observation of the system covered a period of many years, 
gives valuable information concerning the servant class in Pennsyl- 
vania at the beginning of the present century. In his Note Book, 
dated December 22, 1807, he writes, "The vast quantity of unculti- 



8 "Kidnapp'd and fool'd I hither fled, 
To shun a hated Nuptial bed, 
And to my cost already find, 
Worse Plagues than those I left behind." 
To avoid an unhappy marriage, is the general excuse made by English 

women who are sold or sell themselves to Maryland. 

On another occasion the factor, while stopping at an inn, describes a 

"jolly female crew" that "were deep engaged in Lanctre-Looe (cards) :" 
"In Night rails white, with dirty mien, 
Such sights are scarce in England seen: 
I thought them first some Witches bent, 
On black Designs in dire Convent, 
Till one who with affected air, 
Had nicely learned to curse and swear; 
D — n you, says one, though now so brave 
I knew you late a Four- Years Slave; 
What if for Planter's wife you go, 
Nature designed you for the Hoe. 
Rot you, replies the other straight, 
The Captain kissed you for his Freight; 
And if the Truth was known aright, 
And how you walked the Streets at Night, 
You'd blush (if one cou'd blush) for shame, 
Who from Bridewell or Newgate came." 
Journey to Pennsylvania: 92. 



The Social Status of the Servant. zoy 

vated land, the general prosperity and unexampled increase of our 
cities, unite to scatter the menial citizens, and to make it extremely 
difficult to be suited with decent servants. I have had a strange 
variety, amongst which I have heard of one being hung, of one that 
hung himself, of one that died drunk in the road, and of another that 
swallowed poison in a fit of intoxication. Those that form my pres- 
ent household, have lived with me from one to three years, and are 
pretty tolerable." Again under date of August i, 1817, we find the 
following: "Being a long time dissatisfied with some of my servants, 
I went on board the ship John, from Amsterdam, lately arrived with 
four hundred passengers, to see if I could find one for Mrs. Ross 
and two for myself. I saw the remains of a very fine cargo, con- 
sisting of healthy, good looking men, women and children, and I 
purchased one German Swiss for Mrs. Ross, and two French Swiss 
for myself." Three years later he writes of a servant girl who was 
discharged "for fibbing and mischief-making." Commenting 
further upon the same servant, he says. "But what makes me take 
any notice of this woman is that she, like many others who have 
served in my house these last twenty-five years, came to us almost 
naked, and must have seen hard times without profiting by the 
lessons of adversity ; for no sooner was she entitled to receive a few 
dollars, than she squandered them in finery instead of buying neces- 
saries." After describing the thoughtless extravagance in which his 
servants lavished money in the purchase of jewelry and other 
"trash," he adds, "This is a faithful picture of the wasteful and dis- 
graceful extravagance of nine-tenths of the servants, male and 
female, for the last thirty years. 10 

Servants from the continent were usually preferred to those 
from England and Ireland. "The Irish servants," writes Benjamin 
Marshall in 1766, "will be very dull, such numbers having already 
arrived from different ports, that I believe it will be overdone, espe- 
cially as several Dutch vessels are expected here, which will always 
command the market." " Those from England seem often to have 
been "picked up from the streets of London," and to have come 
from the cities generally, whereas those from Germany were usually 
from the country and, therefore, better suited to develop the agri- 
cultural resources of the colony. 

Perhaps in nothing was the influence of the servant more marked 



10 Samuel Breck, Recollections, etc. p. 295-300. Phila., 1877. 

11 Letter Book of Benjamin Marshall, in Pa. Mag. of Hist, and Biog. XX: 
212. Phila., 1896. 



10S Reae7nptioners and Indentured Servants. 

in his effect on society, than in that powerful agency for good or 
evil — the public school system. In some of the colonies it was 
largely the redemptioners and indentured servants that instructed 
the youths of the time. Nor was the average schoolmaster of those 
days a model of excellence. In fact he was not supposed to be, and 
his character was usually in keeping with his reputation. Too often 
their moral standard was low, their habits dissolute, and their 
methods and discipline extremely crude. That sobriety was at a 
premium among this class may be inferred from the following 
advertisement : "Wanted, a sober person that is capable of teaching 
a school ; such a one coming well recommended, may find encour- 
agement in said employ." 12 It has been stated that in the early 
part of the 18th century, three-fourths the instruction received in 
Maryland was derived from instructors that were either indentured 
servants or transported felons. There is no evidence that con- 
victs were thus employed in Pennsylvania, but the servant formed 
no small proportion of the teaching force of the community. 
Scarcely a vessel arrived in which there were not schoolmasters 
regularly advertised for sale. What the effect of such instruction 
on a growing colony must have been, is obvious. The fact that the 
free population intrusted the instruction of their children to these 
crude moulders of youthful thought does not indicate an advanced 
state of society in general, and yet it must be remembered that those 
were pioneer days in which the question of subsistence was neces- 
sarily uppermost in the mind of the individual. In none of the 
middle colonies at this time did the teacher occupy an exalted posi- 
tion. He was regarded as an unproductive laborer. Agricultural 
laborers or artisans was what the colony wanted and most needed, 
and they were nearly always sold at a higher price than the school- 
masters. 

It would, however, be incorrect to regard what has been said, as 
a just representation of the entire servant class. Against the 
unfavorable accounts given by some contemporaries, may be placed 
others representing the highest types of honesty, industry, and 
nobility. Robert Sutcliff, who visited America, at the beginning of 
the present century, writes, "I noticed many families, particularly 
in Pennsylvania, of great respectability both in our society and 



12 Pennsylvania Gazette; Dec. 1 1, 1755. 

"Wanted, a single Person, well qualified for a Schoolmaster. Such a 
one coming well recommended, may meet with encouragement by applying 
to John Braughton, within a few miles of Rariton Landing."— Ibid; Aug. 18, 
1755- 



*\ 



The Social Status of the Servant. log 

amongst others, who had themselves come over to this country as 
redemptioners ; or were children of such. And it is remarkable, that 
the German residents in this country, have a character for greater 
industry and stability than those of any other nation." 13 A large 
proportion of the Germans in Pennsylvania, whose thrift and 
industry SutclifT commends, we have already seen, were servants. 
The same writer speaks of a German who "being of the class of 
immigrants called redemptioners" came to Pennsylvania, and was 
first employed as a waiting boy. After he learned the English 
language he requested of his master to be put apprentice to a paper 
maker, which request was granted. Having acquired a knowledge 
of the manufacture of paper, by industry and economy he obtained 
sufficient property to enable him to begin business, and in a short 
time he was the owner of a large manufacturing concern. Examples 
of this kind might be multiplied, showing that many of this servile 
class, after being released from the indenture, became distinguished 
citizens. No less a person than Charles Thompson, Secretary of 
Congress during the Revolution, was said to have been a redemp- 
tioner. It was this class that contributed a signer to the immortal 
Declaration of Independence in the person of Mathew Thornton. 
It was this species of servitude that gave to the war for independence 
the efficient General Sullivan, who shared the glory of having fought 
with Washington. 

After the servant had completed his period of service, he was 
entitled to a legal settlement. This was fixed by an act of the 
Assembly of Pennsylvania in 1771, providing that "every indentured 
servant, legally and directly imported into this province shall obtain 
a legal settlement * * * * in the place in which such servant 
shall first serve * * * * the space of sixty days." If during 
his indenture he had been sold to another master, and served with 
him twelve months, he obtained a legal settlement in the place where 
he last served. 14 Thus the servant was merged into the great body 
of freemen, and all traces of his former occupations were soon 
obliterated. If he were industrious, he could rise, as in fact many 
did, to the highest social and political plane, by virtue of those 
qualities which elevated all freemen to positions of trust and influ- 
ence. As a matter of fact, however, the servants on becoming free, 
swelled the ranks of the great middle class, and the prominent 
positions which many occupied in after life, were, after all, relatively 
few. 

13 Sutcliff, Travels in America: 257. London, 181 1. 

14 Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I: 577. Phila., 1797. 



no Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 



CONCLUSION. 

What, finally, was the result of the system of indentured service 
on the society and the state ? This may be said : It was an institu- 
tion arising out of the economic conditions of the time, suited to, 
and justified by the state of society. Just as the feudal system of 
Europe was a necessary step in the evolution of society from a lower 
to a higher form of civilization, so the institution of indentured 
service was a necessary stage in the economic development of the 
colonial society of Pennsylvania. It had a definite purpose, was 
called into existence by natural forces, served that purpose, and then 
with the increase of labor and the invention of machinery, gradually 
passed away. That it was economically superior to a system of free 
labor under colonial conditions, is apparent from the fact that it was 
everywhere preferred to the system of hired service. The benefit 
to production from long and certain terms of contract labor in a 
sparselv settled country no doubt outweighed the incidental though 
necessary evils. The moral effect on society was deteriorating, as 
any species of servitude must necessarily be. It hardened the 
master toward the servile class and prepared him for slavery. 1 And 
yet, indirectly, there was a moral advantage to the state as a whole ; 
the system served as a barrier against the growing institution of 
slavery for which it was substituted, thus preventing the moral 
degradation which that institution carried with it. The public 
attention which this institution called to transportation, resulted 
in better laws governing immigration in general. The authorities, 
by reason of the legal processes necessary in landing and binding 
servants, were forced to take measures to correct abuses which 
otherwise would have escaped their notice. The infusion of the 
lower and middle classes into society was marked by an increase of 
democratic ideas which gave to Pennsylvania society that peculiar 
and unique cast which typically foreshadowed the future common- 
wealths of America. It stimulated immigration, bringing into 
Pennsylvania both a desirable and an unworthy class. Those who 
came with the high motives of building up the colony by establish- 
ing permanent homes, who were driven from their native countries 
by wars and famine, and by religious and political persecutions, 
were a decided advantage to society and the state. Chief among 



l J. C. Ballagh, Johns Hopkins Univ. Hist. Series, Vol. XIII. 



Conclusion. in 

this class were the German Palatines. These from the earliest days 
had been disciplined in the habits of industry, frugality and patience, 
and were peculiarly fitted for the laborious occupations of felling- 
timber, clearing lands, and forming the first improvements. The 
success which attended their efforts induced thousands of their 
enterprising countrymen to abandon their homes, secure passage 
and sell themselves as servants in Pennsylvania, there to develop 
the uncultivated wastes into a prosperous state. Nor because they 
came in the humble capacity of servants were the hardy, brave, 
though hot-headed Scotch-Irish, who hated the Pope "as sincerely 
as they venerated Calvin or Knox" an unimportant element in 
developing the resources of the new colony and infusing a sturdy 
strength into the future state. Likewise the conservative and reso- 
lute English who came with the first settlers as servants, and who 
throughout the colonial period continued to arrive in servile 
capacity, introducing trade, manufacture and arts, were of inestima- 
ble value. Their genius supplemented the work of the other classes, 
preserved English institutions and customs, and advanced the edu- 
cational interests which placed the state in its prominent rank at the 
close of the Revolution. 

But alongside the honest and industrious which the system of 
indentured service was instrumental in bringing to the colony, came 
the shiftless, the idle, the vagrant, the pauper, and finally the con- 
vict, who too often received the same consideration as the honest 
servant. This class naturally cast a shadow over the whole body 
of indentured service, and their influence was decidedly bad. It is 
not strange that a writer in Franklin's Gazette of 1751 thought that 
"all the Newgates and Dungeons in Britain" were emptied into the 
colonies, or that "these Thieves and Villains introduced among us, 
spoil the Morals of the Youths and the Neighborhoods that enter- 
tain them," for the number of this class that came into the colony 
in the guise of servants and redemptioners gave justification to the 
statement. Their effect on the social and moral life of the colony 
could not have been other than detrimental. 

But perhaps the worst results of the system were connected with 
transportation. Shipping merchants were not slow to see the profits 
arising from the sale of servants far above the actual cost of trans- 
portation. Various agencies were employed to secure passengers. 
Vessels were crowded beyond their capacity so that the death rate 
became enormous. The Neulanders, the "spirits," the "soul- 
drivers," were busily employed in practices of deception, and artful 

8 



112 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

misrepresentations which caused many immigrants to spend a dis- 
appointed life in the new colony. All this, aside from the human 
suffering and injustice inflicted upon thousands, involved an eco- 
nomic loss. 

A final estimate of the result of the system of indentured service 
cannot be adequate without a definite statement of the point of view 
from which the system is to be judged ; and no single criterion can 
be adopted from which to estimate the complete results in all its 
relations. To Germany this vast emigration meant a loss of her best 
population ; to England it was an advantage, as it offered a partial 
solution to the problem of "What to do with the idle classes ?" and 
to Pennsylvania it meant a decided economic gain. Like slavery 
it performed the menial labor of the community in which it existed, 
but unlike that institution when public sentiment demanded its 
extinction it died, by virtue of the limited term of service, an easy 
and natural death, almost unnoticed by those living in that period ; 
no clash of arms nor shedding of human blood marked its extinc- 
tion ; and although to-day in almost every community in the United 
States may be found those who remember vividly the stories related 
by parents and relatives of the suffering caused, in part at least, by 
this system of service, there is no trace of its former disfigurement 
left upon the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 



Appendix. iij 

APPENDIX I. 

Form for binding a servant. 
Philadelphia, ss. 

This Indenture Witnesseth That Peter Smith of his own free will 
(and consent of his Father, John Smith) for and in consideration as 
well of the Sum of $100 paid by Edwin Valette of the N. L. of the 
City of Philadelphia, Ship Brohen, to Jacob Sperry, for his passage 
from Amsterdam, as also for other causes and considerations he the 
said Peter Smith Hath bound and put himself, and by these Presents 
Doth bind and put himself Servant to the sd Edwin Vallette to 
Serve him his Executors Administrators and Assigns from the day 
of the date hereof for and during the full term of Three years from 
thence next ensuing — During all which said term the said Servant 
his Said Masters his Executors Administrators and Assigns faith- 
fully Shall serve, and that honestly and obediently in All things, as 
a good and faithful servant ought to do. And the said Edwin Val- 
lette his Executors Administrators and Assigns during the said term 
shall find and provide for the sd Servant sufficient Meat Drink 
Apparel Washing and Lodging — and also to give him 18 weeks' 
Schooling — And at the expiration of his term the said Servant to 
have two complete Suits of Clothes, one whereof to be new — And 
for the true performance the Covenants and Agreements aforesaid 
the Said Parties bind themselves unto each other firmly by these 
Presents. In Witness Whereof the Said Parties have interchange- 
ably set their Hands and Seals hereunto. Dated the — day of 

in the Year of our Lord one Thousand eight hundred and . 

Bound before 

I. F. H., Register. Peter Smith, (Seal). 

John Smith, (Seal). 

E. Vallette, (Seal). 

Copied from MSS. Registry of the Redemptioners in Hist. Soc. 
of Pa. 

APPENDIX II. 

Form for transferring a servant from one owner to another. 
Philadelphia, ss. 

I the within named Edwin Vallette, in consideration of the Sum 
of $75 to me in hand paid by Daniel K. Miller of the N. L. of the 

9 



114 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants, 

City of Philadelphia, Potter, the receipt whereof I do hereby ac- 
knowledge. Have and by these Presents Do assign transfer and Set 
over unto the sd D. K. M. his Executor, Administrator and Assigns 
the within Indenture and all my Right Interest Claim and demand 
whatsoever of in and to the same and to the service of the within 
named Servant Peter Smith therein agreed to be performed for and 
during the remainder of the Term of the within Indenture yet to 
come and unexpired — He the sd D. K. M. his Ex'rs Adm'rs, and 
Assigns performing the Covenants and Agreements in the within 
Indenture contained which on the part of the sd E. V. his Ex. Ad. 
and As. are and ought to be paid and performed as within men- 
tioned — Witnesseth my Hand and Seal this day of 

in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Eight hundred and . 

Before 

I. F. H., E. Vallette. 

Register. 
From MSS. in Hist. Soc'y of Penn. 

APPENDIX III. 

Following are a number of entries as they appear in the Registry 
of Redemptioners, now in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania 
library. Two manuscript volumes contain the names of all the 
German redemptioners bound at Philadelphia from 1784 to 1831. 

Dec. 15, John Hesselbach and Anna Elizabetha his wife bound 
1784. themselves Servants to Frederick Boulange of the city 
of Philadelphia, Merchant, to Serve him four years, to 
have customary Freedom Suits. 

Consideration 40 pounds. 

Sept. 10, Johannes Hesselback and Anna Elizabetha his wife 
1788. bound themselves Servants to John Edwards of Thorn- 
burry Township, Chester County, State of Pennsylvania, 
Iron Master, to Serve him four years, to have Customary 
freedom Suits, their first Indenture recorded page 69, 
being cancelled by their own request. 

Consideration 30 Pounds. 

Oct. 19, George Roth and his wife Anna Guster and their child 
1795. Anna Maria Bound to Charles Gregwere, of Philadel- 
phia County, Dublin Township, Farmer, to serve him 
three years each and Twenty Dollars the husband to 



Appendix. 115 

have besides the freedom dues, one new pair of Boots, 
their child Anna Maria to have Freedom suits, to be 
furnished books to learn in & to be free when the 
Parents are. Consideration L57-84- 

Aug. 22, John Andrew Maurer his wife Anna Barbary, Son John 
1800. Andrew and Daughters Anna Barbara and Catherine 
Elizabeth, have bound themselves to Samuel Ringgold 
Esq'r in the State of Maryland, to serve him Four years, 
the son to have two quarters' schooling, and each of 
them to have customary Freedom Suits. 

Consideration 100 Guineas. 

Nov. 5, Elizabeth Seiffer bound herself servant to William 
1817. Hayes of Lewisbury, Union County, Merch' to serve 
him for Two years and Six months. And at the expira- 
tion of her term to have two complete suits of Clothes, 
one thereof to be new, and Ten Dollars in cash. 

Cons' 70 Doll's. 

Nov. 5, Catharina Sterki with her Father's consent bound her- 
1817. self servant to Richard Ashurst of Philad'a Merch.' to 
serve him Three years. And to have Six weeks' of 
schooling for every year of her servitude, and at the 
Expiration of her term to have Two Complete suits of 
Clothes, one thereof to be new. 

Cons'n. 66 30-100 Doll's. 

Nov. 5, Hans Ulrich Kaser with his Father's consent bound 
1817. himself servant to Jacob Hassinger of Philad'a Merch' 
to serve him 8 years and 3 months, and to have 6 weeks' 
schooling for every year of his servitude, and at the 
Expiration of his term to have two complete Suits of 
Clothes, one thereof to be new. 

Cons'n 66 30-100 Doll's. 

Nov. 5, Catharine Klinger bound herself servant to John Gest 
1817. of Philad'a Merch't, to serve him Four years and at the 
Expiration of her term to have Two Complete suits of 
clothes one thereof to be new. Cons'n 100 Doll's. 

Catharine Klinger at the same time assigned to Fred- 
erick Diller Baker of Sallsburry township Lancaster 
County, Farmer to serve him the remainder of her In- 
denture as above recorded. Cons'n 100 Doll's. 



n6 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

Nov. 10, Landclin Stregel with his wife's consent bound himself 
servant to Parkes Boyd to serve him Three years, And to 
have Fifteen Dollars per year in lieu of Apparel and no 
Freedom suit. Cons'n 15 Doll's. 

Nov. 10, Anna Maria Stregel with her husband's consent bound 

1817. herself servant to the above Parkes Boyd to serve him 
Three years and to have Fifteen Dollars per year in lieu 
of Apparel and no Freedom suit. Cons'n 15 Doll's. 

Jan. 1, Landelin Stregel Assigned by Parkes Boyd to Christian 

1818. G. Schmidt of Philad'a Baker to serve him the remain- 
der of his Indenture as recorded page 5. 

Cons'n 20 Doll's. 

Jan. 1, Anna Maria Stregel assigned by Parkes Boyd to the 
1818. above Christian G. Schmidt to serve him the remainder 
of her Indenture as recorded, page 5. 

Cons'n 20 Doll's. 

Jan. 1, John Andrew Schneider bound himself servant to John 
1818. Geisinger of Hanover township Northampton County 
Farmer to serve him Three years. And at the Expira- 
tion of his term to have two complete suits of Clothes, 
One thereof to be new, And fifteen Dollars in Cash. 

Cons'n 16 30-100 Doll. 

Oct. 22, Anna Maria Ott with consent of her husband 

1818. to James Fassitt of Philad'a Merch't for Two years to 
have at the end of the Term Two Complete Suits of 
Clothes, one thereof to be new. And should the Servant 
during the term of her Servitude have an Offspring then 
she is to serve her Master Six Months' longer. 

Cons'n 55 Dol's. 

Nov. 30, Anna Maria Ott assigned by William Warrance, to John 

1819. Kohler of Phila. Coach wheel wright, to serve him or 
assigns the remainder of her Indenture recorded Page 
j6. Cons'n 20 Dol's. 

Nov. 30, Christian Ott and his wife Anna Maria, having paid the 
1819. above John Kohler Thirty Six dol's in consideration of 
the remainder of their Indentures, they are both dis- 
charged from any further Obligations contained therein 
and the Indentures made null and void. 



Appendix. 117 

Jan. 22, Eva Wagner with consent of her father to John M. 
1 82 1. Brown of the Northern Libertyes, Phila. County, Riger, 
for five years, to have six months' schooling and at the 
end of the term Two complete suits of clothes, one of 
which to be new, also one Straw bed, one bedstead, one 
Blanket, one pillow and one sheet. Con'n 70 Dol's. 

Jacob Schaeffer, with his own consent assigned by Jacob 
Sheerer to Frederick Snyder of the city of Philadelphia, 
Baker, to serve the remainder of the term of his Inden- 
ture, Recorded page 129. Con. $24. 



APPENDIX IV. 

Health Officer's Certificate permitting Passenger to land. 

Health Office, Phila., 

March 10, 1824. 
To I. F. H. Register of German Passengers, 

I do hereby report that I have reviewed all the above named 
passengers (25 in number) on board the ship lane, Capt. John 
Smith, arrived this day at the Port of Phila. from Amsterdam, and 
that none of them are superannuated, impotent or otherwise likely 
to become chargeable to the Public, but all of them sound, without 

any defect in mind or body. 

Wm. Mandry, 

Health Officer. 

Copied from the Registry of Redemptioners, MSS. 



APPENDIX V. 

Notices of Runaivays. 

"Runaway last Night, from on board the Dianna, of Dublin, 
Richard M"Carty, Master, a Servant Man, named Valentine Hand- 
lin, aged about 30 Years, a lusty rawbon'd Fellow small round 
Visaged, is of a dark Complexion with short Black Hair, Had on 
when he went away, a brown bob Wig, Old Felt Hat, an old lightish 
colour'd cloth grear Coat, a blue grey Waistcoat, old leather 
Breeches, yarn Stockings, broad square toe'd Shoes ; and perhaps 
may have taken some other clothes with him. He is remarkably 



n8 Redemptioners and Indentured Servants. 

hollow Footed and seems crump footed when his Shoes are off. 
Whoever secures the said Servant so he may be had again, shall 

have Twenty Shillings Reward, paid by 

William Blair." 
Pennsylvania Gazette, Dec. II, 1740. 

"Run away from Cornwall iron works, in Lancaster County, an 
English Servant Man, named Mathew Williams, belonging to Wil- 
liam Keepers, of Baltimore County, in Maryland, a short well set 
fellow, about 25 years of age : Had on when he went away a castor 
hat, silk cap, a blue broad-cloth coat, and black damask Jacket, red 
plush breeches and a pair of boots. Whoever takes up the said 
servant and brings him to Amos Garrett, at said works shall receive 

5 Pounds as a reward paid by 

Amos Garrett." 
Pennsylvania Gazette, May 16, 1751. 

"Run away from Henry Caldwell, of Newton, in Chester County, 
an Irish Servant-man, named John Hamilton, about 22 years of age, 
of a middle stature, well set, fresh complexion, and speaks good 
English : Had on when he went away, a brown colour'd coat, white 
damask vest, very much broke, old felt hat, cotton cap, good leather 
breeches, Light coloured stockings, and old shoes ; he has been a 
servant before, and is supposed to have his old indenture with him. 

Whoever takes up said servant, so that his master may have him 
again, shall have 30s. reward, and reasonable charges paid by 

Henry Caldwell." 
Pennsylvania Gazette, March 17, 1752. 

"Run away on the 18th inst. at night from on board the ship 
Friendship, Hugh Wright, Commander, now lying at William 
Allen Esquire's wharff, James Dowdall, a servant man, a laborer, 
lately come in, but has been in many parts of this continent before ; 
he is about 5 ft. 4 inches high, has short hair, but neither cap nor 
hat: Has on a blue frize coat and Jacket, a Check shirt, leather 
breeches, and blue yarn hose: speaks as a native of this Province; 
he is at present greatly infected with the itch, and not able to travel 
far. Whoever secures the said James Dowdall so that he be brought 
to the said Commander, or to Wallace and Bryan on Market Street 
Wharf, shall have 40s. reward and reasonable charges paid by 

Wallace and Bryan." 
Pennsylvania Gazette, Sept. 28, 1752. 



Appendix. up 

"Run away the 20 ult. from Philip Moser: A Servant Man 

named Nicholas Wolfe five feet five inches high, having lost the 

little finger of his left hand, black hair'd ; had on when he went away, 

a light grey cloth coat, blue Jacket new shoes with yellow buckles 

in them. Whoever takes up and secures him so that his master may 

have him again, shall have Five Pounds and all reasonable charges 

paid by 

Philip Moser." 

Pa, Journal and Weekly Advertiser, Jan. 26, 1763. 

A COURT RECORD OF A RUNAWAY. 

"Abell Porter, pit 

An action of the case. 
Henry Bowman 

The pit declares that his Servant Henry Williams, a Cooper 
being run away and taken up in those parts the de'ft. did engage 
and promise to be security for his forth coming upon demand, and 
the deft, now refusing to procure or produce the said servant, the 
pl't. craves judgment of this court against the deft, for the sum of 
thirty-five pounds ster : money of old England with costs ; The deft 
doth own in open court that he did promise to be security for the 
sd servant's forth coming according to declaration but craves a 
Refferance till next court which the court granted." 

Ancient Records of Sussex Co. (Pa.) MSS. 1681-1709. 



APPENDIX VI. 

Warrant of Survey of "Servant-land." 

"At the Request of John Baldwin that we would grant him to 
take up One hundred acres of head-land at One-half penny Rent per 
acre per annum, fifty thereof in right of his own service to Joshua 
Hastings and fifty in right of his Wife Katharine, servant to John 
Blunston. These are to authorize and Require thee to survey and 
lay out to the said John Baldwin the said number of One hundred 
acres of land in the tract appropriated to servants or elsewhere in 
the province not already surveyed nor taken up, etc." Dated 30th 
4 mo., 1702. 

Quoted in History of Chester Co., Phila., 1881. P. 155. 



I20 Redemptioners and Indentured Serve nts. 



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